Talent receives grant for waterline work

TALENT — A federal grant of $849,050 will allow the city to replace water lines under Highway 99 before the Oregon Department of Transportation resurfaces the road.

Hopes to upgrade the stretch from Rapp Road to Creel Road with turn lanes, storm drains, sidewalks and bike paths appear to be dashed by a lack of additional funds, city officials said.

A Community Development Block Grant from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development administered by the state of Oregon will fund the .8-mile water line replacement. Talent is eligible for the grant due to its economic status as determined by data collected during the 2000 census.

"We were really hoping we could do the same type of project as was done on the north section (of Highway 99)," City Manager Jay Henry said. That work, completed in 2007, included storm drains, curbs and gutters, sidewalks and bike lanes from Rapp Road north to Colver Road.

Henry said the Oregon Department of Transportation has been unable to secure money for those kinds of projects.

"We're still trying to pursue it, though," he said. "We're still trying to find any funds so we can go in and do it right from the beginning."

City and ODOT officials will coordinate project timing, with the work occurring in 2011. ODOT has budgeted $1.8 million to resurface Highway 99 from Rapp Road to Valley View Road in Ashland this year or in 2011, but the agency had also expressed a willingness to work with the city in its efforts to replace the water line.

"All that we are gong to do is a grind and inlay. It will be basically just replacing existing pavement," said Leever. The process will remove about 2.5 inches of pavement, then new pavement will bring it back to the current level. Delay of the work until 2013 would have required an overlay on top of the work planned.

For Talent, the grant allows replacement of 6-inch and 12-inch water lines that date from the 1960s and are prone to deterioration as they age, The existing pipes are sound, but they will be replaced with a 16-inch ductile iron pipe.

Tony Boom is a freelance writer in Ashland. Reach him at tboomwriter@gmail.com.

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