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Roadwork finished on intersection, streets open

After being shut down for nearly four weeks, the intersection of Howard Road and Schnoor Avenue is now open for traffic.

“I’m really happy with the work that our public works department and our engineering team were able to put together,” said Mayor Robert Poythress, “whatever was necessary to make the repair, and do it properly, as well as working on some of the other unforeseen types of issues, like when we had this collapse at the manhole.”

The intersection, which reopened to traffic on Monday, had been subjected to a series of repairs starting in late June, when the city council voted to spend more than $600,000 from Madera’s utility reserve funds to install a new liner into the north-south sewer main.

According to city engineer Keith Helmuth, however, it was found that the sewer lines were more deteriorated than previously believed, and a new, stronger pipeline liner was needed between 5th Street and Industrial Avenue, running approximately 1,000 ft. The budget for the project was then raised to $850,000 to add in the new liner and make additional repairs to manholes on the road.

Complications arose on the first night of the project, when a sinkhole opened up at the intersection of Howard Road and Schnoor Avenue, causing a 19-ton asphalt grinder to sink in and get stuck. A tow truck then had be called to get the grinder out of the hole.

Helmuth said the sinkhole was caused by a preexisting cavity in the intersection, and as the necessary cuts were being made in the asphalt by contractors, the spot destabilized.

This also meant that an additional 110 feet of pipes had to be replaced. Another 40 feet of liner was also added on 4th Street.

Helmuth said the final invoices for the project have not yet been received.

According to Poythress, despite these complications, contractors were able to finish work on the sewer line last Friday, opening up all the streets except for the Schnoor and Howard intersection, which opened up on Monday, and traffic flow is back to normal.

“And you can tell people are so happy about that,” said Poythress, whose office at Citizens Business Bank looks out on the intersection. “When you’re used to certain traffic, or certain destinations, and certain ways to get there, and it’s taken away, then it’s a little trickier to get from here to there, and it’s become a a nuisance, but with this opened up, it’s just been this big relief for traffic, and it’s so much easier to get around now, and people are really pleased by it.”

“It was a great effort led by our public works and engineering team. And as well by law enforcement. I think law enforcement did a nice job controlling traffic, and stepping in and being a great teammate,” Poythress said. “I also want to thank the citizens of Madera, because I think in spite of the inconvenience, everybody realized what the situation was, and they demonstrated great patience, and everybody I talked to had a very good attitude and understood why we had to do what we did.”

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