- The Washington Times - Friday, October 19, 2001

Steel plates yesterday covered trenches dug by nighttime crews replacing a 75-year-old system of water, sewerage, electric power, gas and telephone lines on M Street NW in Georgetown.

The digging had begun about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday and stopped about 7 yesterday morning. Emplacement of the new system will continue weekday nights until February or March 2004 and cost about $30 million.

"What we're hoping here is that we're not only building a model of a new Georgetown, we're building a model of how transportation and infrastructure projects can and will be done," said Dan Tangherlini, acting director of the District's transportation division.

"Georgetown will be open for business throughout this entire process," Mr. Tangherlini said. "It will be done in a manner that minimizes the impact on the businesses and residents of Georgetown, as well as the people who work and visit there."

Most of the work will be done between 9:30 p.m. and 6 a.m., Mondays through Thursdays. There will be no tearing up and construction on weekends, on Halloween or from Thanksgiving until after Jan. 1, 2002.

The first phase is on M Street from Key Bridge to Potomac Street, and from Wisconsin to 27th Street.

All traffic lanes on M Street will be open during morning and evening rush hours. Four of the six lanes will be closed at night in areas under construction.

Equipment will be moved off the streets during the day, and some interruptions of utility services will occur as the construction progresses along the streets.

The need for repairs of underground tunnels became more apparent during the last two years as electrical shorts and fires exploded in manholes. The explosions occurred mainly in Georgetown where the oldest utilities were located.

Officials said an unprecedented partnership has been formed to accomplish the work most efficiently. Called the Georgetown Project, it is a teaming of Potomac Electric Power Co., Verizon, Washington Gas, the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority and the D.C. Division of Transportation.

As part of the project, D.C. transportation crews will construct new sidewalks and landscaping on portions of M Street and Wisconsin Avenue. They will plant trees and install park benches to coincide with the utility work and to minimize disruptions.

Pepco, spending about $10 million, actually began rebuilding residential electric service in September. Taking one block at a time, crews are nearing completion of electrical restoration for residences within and along 26th, 30th, M and Dumbarton streets NW.

Pepco crews are working from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. because most residents will be off at jobs during the day. Residents have been advised that power might be interrupted, but for no more than four hours.

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