Jefferson Street closed three months

Nick Stroman

Starting this week, one of Morton’s highest traffic areas is going to be shut down for the next three months.

East Jefferson Street between North Oregon Avenue and Rhode Island Avenue will be closed for reconstruction of the street.

Superintendent of public works Bob Wraight said the project is starting about eight weeks later than planned because Verizon workers discovered phone wires in an unexpected area of the street.

“We had engineers out there last fall and didn’t see it and Verizon didn’t know it was there either. The cables have been relocated and moved now, but if we cut that, the whole east end of town would be out of service,” Wraight said.

Of course, the late start also means a late finish date for the work as well.

“The plan was to be done before school starts in mid-August, so we weren’t dealing with bus routes. Now, it’s looking more like mid-October. We may be able to make up some of that time depending on the cooperation of weather,” Wraight said.

Wraight said residents in the Orchard Hills subdivision will be the most affected by the road closure, as drivers will have to go all the way around on Tennessee Avenue and come back in on Jefferson from the Tennessee end.

“It’s really going to affect the Grace Presbyterian Church people too. There are no more bridges across the Bull Run Creek for people to get to and fro,” Wraight added.

Wraight said after this project is complete, the next focus will be working on Rhode Island through the Tennessee intersection in 2011.

“The work we are doing now is just under $1 million and in 2011, it’s just over $1 million. We’re looking at $2 million to do this complete job, so it takes lots of money to save up to do these projects,” Wraight said.

Wraight said the road repairs are necessary due to the growth of the subdivision and increased traffic in the area.

“It used to be a two-lane township road that went out into the country. Now, it’s developed on both sides and we’re making it three-lane with curbs and gutters. It’s necessary to accommodate the traffic,” Wraight said.

Wraight said while the entire subdivision is not populated yet, the village is unsure of how fast growth is coming and what to anticipate.

“Developers tend to build faster than we can respond and I think while we’re a little behind, we are running along trying to get the roads the right size and in the right condition,” Wraight said.

“We don’t want to be years behind because that could create huge traffic backups and future accidents,” Wraight added.