Catching up on construction — City communicates with business owners as Sixth Street construction progresses

Detour signs continue to cordon off Sixth Street from Deakin to Asbury. The construction that began at the intersection in late May is the fifth installment of a six-phase project aimed at enhancing the City of Moscow’s sewage collection pipes.

Assistant City Engineer Scott Bontrager said one of Moscow’s sewer lines was built in the early 1900s, and the other in the 1950s.

“This is about a capacity issue,” Bontrager said. “It’s updating and putting in a bigger pipe, and this phase is taking it from Ghormley Park just north of Sixth Street down to a connection in College Street.”

The 36-inch sanitary sewer truck that runs through Sixth Street is only one portion of the current phase. Bontrager said this project also involves replacing other utilities, such as water and storm lines, and upgrading sidewalks.

Once the work on Sixth Street is completed, the construction crew will work on enhancing the rest of the sewer lines through College Street. The sixth and final phase of the project is scheduled to be completed during the first week of August.

The project is funded and executed by the City of Moscow, but restricts access to a major University of Idaho entrance. UI Construction Manager Richard Rader said the construction primarily impacts UI Human Resources employees and those who work in the university offices located on Sixth and Asbury.

The city has made accommodations for those who need access to these buildings, such as creating a temporary entrance for HR employees who lost access to their public parking lot and ensuring a pedestrian walkway is always open on one side of the street. Rader said the city also consistently communicates with UI personnel.

“The city has been a great partner,” Rader said. “We have weekly meetings every Tuesday where we share updates and progress.”

Once that progress is communicated, it’s published on the Construction News section of the UI Facilities website. The new, regularly updated page lists all ongoing and upcoming projects taking place on UI campuses throughout Idaho, including the Sixth Street sewer project.

Updates on the Sixth Street sewer project can also be found on the City of Moscow website.

In addition to communicating with the university and posting updates on their website, Bontrager said the on-site contractor and inspector routinely meet with local business owners whose establishments are located near the construction.

Walter Beckmann, the manager of Patty’s Mexican Kitchen, said the construction crew is considerate and communicative, but their work still impacts the restaurant’s regular operation.

“I mean, of course it’s going to affect the business just because of complications,” Beckmann said. “Driving into Sixth Street changes depending on what [the construction crew] is doing each day.”

Beckmann said currently, the sidewalk is completely gone on Patty’s side of the street, which means it’s only possible to enter the restaurant from the west through Asbury Street.

Temporary water shut-offs have also impacted businesses in the area. Beckmann said on one occasion, an unexpected water shut-off left Patty’s unable to serve dinner. The second water shut-off, which was scheduled, resulted in the restaurant opening later than usual.

Beckmann said while the impact on business has been inconvenient, Patty’s customers have been more than understanding, and the restaurant’s experience with the city has been positive.

“Our customers are very understanding — I mean, a lot of these are minor issues,” Beckmann said. “The construction guys are great and the communication is great all around.”

Corrin Bond can be reached at or on Twitter @CorrBond

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