Ongoing construction work for Montgomery County’s improvement project at Robinson Road and Woodlands Parkway is expected to continue on schedule, after the Oak Ridge North City Council approved a contract to adjust a city waterline that was found within the county project’s limits.

The county project along Robinson Road includes the signalization of the Woodlands Parkway overpass and interchange at I-45 west of the city and the widening of Robinson’s intersection with Patsy Lane and Westwood Drive in Oak Ridge North. The project was approved by county commissioners in January. County work on the road began in March, and the city announced that a portion of Robinson Road from I-45 to east of Patsy Lane would be subject to an approximately five-week closure for further road work beginning April 6.

At the city's April 13 council meeting held over videoconference, Public Works Director Joe Sherwin said county contractors came across an underground waterline that is in conflict with their work and could stall the project if it is not moved. Initial plans for the road project had shown no civic utility conflicts in the area.

“We’re going to need to either relocate that valve farther down, which means cutting the pipe and lowering that portion of the pipe, or [lower] the entire pipe all the way down,” Sherwin said.

Council members unanimously approved spending up to $75,000, including contingencies, on a new project to relocate the waterline and avoid any delays to the county’s road project. Sherwin estimated work on the waterline could take up to one week including construction and safety testing.

“My recommendation is not that we go out there and relocate the waterline entirely, but that we look and see what can we do the fastest and cheapest to get the county and the contractors moving forward on the project,” Sherwin said. “We’d like to go ahead and move forward so that we don’t have to come back, decide that the only solution is the worst-case scenario, then have to come back and ask for more money and delay the project.”

According to Sherwin, the partial closure along Robinson is expected to be completed in early May and the entire project is scheduled for completion by mid-November.

Later in the meeting, council also considered spending up to $50,000 for the Union Pacific Railroad’s review of plans for the future realignment of Robinson at Hanna roads. While that improvement is not yet funded, the fee would go toward the railroad’s review of the existing engineering plans and preparations for future construction.

“We need to do this right away so that we’re ready on our end,” Council Member Frances Planchard said.

Council unanimously approved an agreement with the railroad including the fee of up to $50,000.