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Orange Water and Sewer Authority project set to replace Carrboro sewer lines

OWASA employees work on East Rosemary St. in Carrboro on Feb. 10, 2022.
OWASA employees work on East Rosemary St. in Carrboro on Feb. 10, 2022.

On Friday, Orange Water and Sewer Authority began work on its East Main Street Sewer Rehabilitation Project to replace approximately 2,000 feet of sewer line in Carrboro, primarily downtown.

An area of Main Street will be closed for a portion of the project's construction, as it is not wide enough to accommodate construction and vehicle traffic.

Other areas affected by the project will yield different levels of impact depending on the site's location at the time, according to OWASA Communications Specialist Blake Hodge.

OWASA will also install and repair manholes and target smaller point repairs in the area, according to a Feb. 7 press release.

Work hours will begin at 8 p.m. on Fridays and will pause at 6 a.m. on Mondays until June, provided no changes from weather or other unpredictable circumstances. The weekend work hours aim to minimize the length of the project, according to the press release.

Hodge said the need for this project revealed itself through OWASA's monitoring program, which assessed conditions in sewer lines through small cameras placed within them. 

He said this undertaking is proactive in nature, allowing time for more planning, less environmental damage and communicating with community members about the project.

“This is really a key part of what we do at OWASA, in terms of maintaining and investing in the community’s water and sewer infrastructure,” Hodge said.

He said this project is in a more prominent location than most of OWASA's other work and the goal is to replace pipes in an efficient, non-disruptive manner.

“We understand this is a large project in a heavily traveled area, and it is going to cause some disruptions,” he said. “We just hope to try to get out in front of that and let people know that it’s coming.” 

Although traffic will be affected, businesses are set to remain open throughout the project. Hodge said that there are no planned water outages, but OWASA will be ready to communicate and respond if problems arise.

OWASA will post updates and maps for the project on its website, and there will be road signs posted to help travelers navigate to businesses around the construction.

David Jessee, a landlord and policy committee chairperson of the Carrboro Business Alliance, said he hopes the signs will help direct customers toward the businesses located near the rehabilitation project. He said this project is an opportunity to draw attention to businesses as downtown Carrboro goes through improvements.

“These businesses are going to be really, really hard to get to," Jessee said. "And the last thing we want is for people to have another reason to feel discouraged to go downtown."

Carrboro Town Council member Randee Haven-O’Donnell said there is a small retail business footprint in downtown Carrboro and that this will impact access to some of the businesses.

“We are glad that it’s going to happen, but we do feel caution for the impact that we will have on the downtown businesses,” Haven-O’Donnell said.

Hodge said he appreciates the community's patience during these critical developments.

Carrboro Mayor Damon Seils said the town and OWASA have been working with local business owners and the Carrboro Business Alliance to communicate logistics, timelines and disruptions.

“It’s going to be disruptive during this stage here and then we will have that resurfacing project, but at the end of the day, we will have brand new sewer lines under the road and we will have a redesigned, safer, better East Main Street and Carrboro,” Seils said.

He said the timing of this project will hopefully allow for OWASA to be finished with its work before the N.C. Department of Transportation begins construction for a resurfacing project in downtown Carrboro this summer.

“The outcome will be a good thing, although it’ll take us a while to get there," Seils said.

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Community members can sign up to receive email alerts on the project at this link.

@waverlymciver | @DTHCityState