A downtown Franklin road could seem uneven to drivers this winter while sections of the road are half-asphalt and half-gravel.
Franklin plans to continue construction on its North Main Street project, but with asphalt plants closed during the winter, construction workers will not be able to immediately repave the roads they tear up.
But the city wants motorists to be able to drive on the street, and that means construction workers will use gravel to fill in the up to 8-foot-wide holes they dig to replace the sewer system beneath the road, street commissioner Ron Collins said.
Collins said motorists won’t slide on ice atop gravel or suffer damage to the bottoms of their cars from it, but motorists should drive slowly on the road because it will be uneven with parts asphalt and gravel.
“There will be situations where you’ve got the left side of your car in gravel and the right side on pavement,” Collins said.
The city started construction on the road this summer as part of its North Main Street project, which will replace the sewer system beneath the street and upgrade the road, sidewalks and curbs from Jefferson Street to Graham Street.
The $3.3 million project was originally set to be finished by April 2014, but construction workers are ahead of schedule and have started work on sections of Main Street they didn’t expect to get to by winter.
Now, city officials want to open parts of the road, even as construction workers finish replacing the sewer system, to give motorists access despite continuing work.
But since they can’t get the asphalt to repave the road, they plan to fill in the holes created during the construction with gravel instead.
This winter, construction will move block by block replacing the sewer pipes under Main Street and filling in the holes with gravel.
Workers will use gravel on sections of the road between Madison and Adams streets where they plan to replace the sewer pipes this winter.
In the spring, the sewer work will continue and workers will repave all of Main Street from Jefferson Street to Graham Street, including the sections where they put down gravel in the winter.
Originally, city officials planned to finish construction on the section of Main Street from Jefferson Street to Madison Street by the end of the winter, project manager Adam Koontz said.
The city already has opened that section of the street, and by Dec. 12 plans to open another section from Madison Street to King Street to motorists visiting nearby businesses, Collins said.
But motorists should expect that at least parts of the road will be gravel this winter.
On the section of Main Street between Madison and King streets, construction workers have torn up the street to replace the sewer system and will fill in the 8-foot-wide hole in the middle of the street with gravel when they are finished, Collins said.
The city plans to tear up only the sections of the street where the sewer system will be replaced, but not tear up the entire street, because officials do not want to make the entire street gravel through the winter, Collins said.
Collins said he is not sure exactly what parts of the street will be gravel, but in some sections, a quarter or half of the street could be gravel.
The road will stay that way until the spring when the city repaves a nearly half-mile section of Main Street from Jefferson to Graham streets, Collins said.