Construction on the second phase of the city of Stephenville’s stormwater drainage improvement project is scheduled to begin soon, which city staff says will cause some traffic detours for local motorists.

City Administrator Mark Kaiser said construction crews will be mobilizing in the coming week to 10 days to begin work on Phase 2 of the Methodist Branch Stormwater Drainage Project now that Phase 1 is nearly complete.

The second portion of the project was scheduled to coincide with the completion of the first phase as well as the local schools’ summer break, said Kaiser.

“They’re getting very close to finishing up the first phase,” said Kaiser. “On the (Bosque) river outlet side, they’re putting in the erosion controls to allow the water to transition into the river and that should be completed in the next few weeks.”

Kaiser said crews are now working at the end of the nine-foot underground tunnel near the intersection of Clinton and Washington Streets to prepare for the second phase of construction which will connect the new stormwater system to alleviate drainage issues experienced in the heart of the city.

Passersby may have noticed some activity along West Frey Street in recent weeks as survey crews from area utility companies have marked the street’s surface with spray paint in preparation for the installation of curb inlets and the relocation of underground pipelines and wiring.

“There are a lot of things involved before we can begin,” said Kaiser. “All the utilities have to be identified so we don’t have any accidents, as well as the surveying to mark the distances of where things will be laid when they tear up the street.”

Kaiser said the project will essentially take care of two things while construction crews make much-needed improvements to the city’s stormwater drainage system. “While there we’re going ahead and making some of these upgrades and improvements and-or fixing some of the problem areas we’ve had for a long time. We’re essentially killing two birds with one stone.”

Motorists who use Frey Street will soon have to find alternate routes as the thoroughfare will be closed to through traffic eastward from North Rome Street to North Cain Street.

The path of the new underground stormwater drainage system will continue south from Frey Street along Cain Street to Vanderbilt. The route will also turn east from Cain at Jones Street and continue along Jones to the intersection of Ollie Street. From there, crews will work south along Ollie to Sloan Street, and from the intersection of Sloan and Clinton Streets until the two new drainage pipes meet at Washington and Clinton Streets.

During construction, Kaiser said the streets will be dug up to relocate existing water, gas and sewer lines, and the bricks along Ollie Street will be removed and stored for future use. When the project is complete Ollie Street will have a new asphalt surface.

“The telephone companies are moving their lines and the gas companies are making upgrades,” he said. “Of course, the electric company’s lines are overhead and they’re not having to do anything.”

The city administrator says the project is expected to be complete in a year-and-a-half, and if the progress of Phase 1 is any indication, contractors should finish within their projected timeline.

“Over the next 18 months, residents that live along those routes will experience some disruption,” said Kaiser.

“We’ll be notifying the residents of the work and signs will be posted to re-route traffic.”

Kaiser said when the two phases are completed, the city “will have improved utilities in the area, as well as new street surfaces along that route.”

“People will see a lot of activity,” he said. “It’s the least intrusive to the community and the traffic patterns during the summer months. There’s never a good time but you’ve got to try and find the best time, and that is the next two to three months.”