MVSD work to close Belmont Avenue in Niles

NILES — A multimillion-dollar project might offer temporary traffic inconveniences for those who use Belmont Avenue but will guarantee fewer problems for Meander Water customers if a main line ever breaks.

Tom Holloway, chief engineer of the Mahoning Valley Sanitary District, said a $6.6 million project to replace isolation valves in Youngstown and Niles, including some originally installed in the 1930s, is set to start Friday and will cause major detours on some main streets in Niles.

The first of the replacement jobs will be completed between Olive Street and McKees Lane on Belmont Avenue, where three of the isolation valves are located. Drivers going north and south will be diverted west on to state Route 46, according to a press release from the district.

The first dig should take care of two of the valves and last between three and five weeks, Holloway said.

Holloway said the company doing the work, Kirila Contractors Inc., will dictate the pace of the rest of the job.

MVSD is paying for the project with funds collected in its rate structure and has been planning the project for years as an operational maintenance project, Holloway said. Kirila Contractors was the lowest and most responsive bidder and did a good job in previous phases of the project, Holloway said.

If a main line in Niles were to break, the isolation valves can be used to cut off the water in a way that would allow a crew to fix the main line while still sending water into the city from one of the other several distribution lines.

The current valves are too old to trust, Holloway said, and the new valves will “improve the system and give better control to the district.” Valves so old may not close all the way if the district needs them to and may have buildup on them after being in place all of those decades, Holloway said.

MVSD is working with the schools to let them know about detour so bus drivers can plan around it, Holloway said.

“These are well-traveled roads, there is a lot of traffic there, that is why we are notifying people now. We want them to be aware so they can plan for it,” Holloway said.

The MVSD has several other projects in the works.

The district is exchanging the old meters that tally the bills for Youngstown and Niles for new ones, Holloway told Niles City Council during the Wednesday meeting.

And the water treatment plant is moving the chemical feed location of the lime it uses to treat the water. Holloway said the move will reduce calcium buildup on fixtures in the homes of the water customers.