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New poles are being erected in Washington as part of Ameren’s plan to reduce outages during severe weather.

Ameren Missouri is making upgrades as part of its Smart Energy Plan. The project is intended to benefit 4,500 customers in Warren and Franklin counties.

Five business, including Mercy Hospital, also will be impacted by the change.

Crews from Ameren’s Franklin Operating Center are upgrading the overhead lines along Third Street and the riverfront area. New, stronger overhead lines with upgraded lightning-protection equipment are designed to be more resilient to severe weather and help to reduce outages.

The upgraded line projects also will increase energy capacity to meet the communities’ growing needs.

The $2.7 million project includes just over two miles of new overhead lines and 95 new, stronger utility poles. Ameren also is eliminating a line along the riverfront that is inaccessible during Missouri River flooding.

Work on the project will wrap up by the end of 2020.

Ameren Missouri’s Smart Energy Plan includes a $5.3 billion investment in more than 2,000 electric projects.

The work in Washington is taking place along Third Street, North Stafford Street, Front Street and West Main Street.

Some of the businesses that will be impacted include Mercy Data Center, WEG Transformers,  Parker Hannifin, Frick’s Meat and the Missourian Publishing Company.

Public Works Director John Nilges said the poles are a different style that allows them to be placed at the back right of way instead of the current position in the middle of the sidewalk.

City Project

Ameren has started its work along Third Street. When it finishes, the city will be ready to overlay and make improvements to Third Street. That project is set to start in 2022.

Nilges said that work, combined with the Ameren project, means Third Street is going to be a “bit of a mess for about a year or two.”

The city project includes a 2-inch overlay from Jefferson Street to Highway 47. The project also will include upgrading sidewalks to meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards, curb and gutter work and other improvements needed.

The city has signed on with Cochran, Union, to help with the project. Under the deal, Cochran will be paid for design services and construction inspections during the project.

The contract will pay Cochran up to $59,963.81 for design services and up to $39,655.09 for the inspections.

Cochran was hired before the Ameren project started to help assist with that work.

Nilges said details of the city’s project are still being worked out. He said the portions of Third Street being overlaid get fairly wide at points — some sections are 42 feet wide, he said.

With the excess width, Nilges said there may be some narrowing of the road involved in the project. He said the city is looking at adjusting the sidewalks from their current position.

Moving the sidewalks also would help get them from being so close to existing property lines, he said.

According to city staff, many of the curbs and sidewalks are in poor condition and could use an upgrade. Plans for the project also include making the street more bike-friendly.

The Third Street overlay is being paid for with federal funds. The work will be funded through a federal Surface Transportation Project (STP)-Urban Program grant through the East-West Gateway Council of Governments.

The cost estimate for construction is $918,000. The federal participation will be $734,392 and the city’s share will be $183,598.