Two for One: N.C. Town Replaces Old Water Main

Tue October 15, 2013 - Southeast Edition
Pete Hildebrandt

The old water main in Hendersonville, N.C., was from the 1920s, so the city took advantage of a major landscaping project to take care of the problem.
The old water main in Hendersonville, N.C., was from the 1920s, so the city took advantage of a major landscaping project to take care of the problem.
The old water main in Hendersonville, N.C., was from the 1920s, so the city took advantage of a major landscaping project to take care of the problem. Skid steers have been preparing the ground for the new road. The project has ranged from 10 to 15 workers onsite at any one time. Work on the project has been proceeding one block at a time, according to Detwiler. Crews have been working fast to avoid this year’s rainy weather.


The old water main in Hendersonville, N.C., was from the 1920s, so the city took advantage of a major landscaping project to take care of the problem. Pouring new concrete for the sidewalk and plaza areas as well as new pavement is something that no one wants to do twice. The two-block area of the scenic city is in the heart of North Carolina’s apple-growing belt, an area that welcomes the busy tourism industry.

Travelers crossing through the town this summer may notice a lot of work. Crews have been working fast to avoid this year’s rainy weather. Skid steers have been preparing the ground for the new road. Beneath, infrastructure has already been laid down and is ready for the next 100 years of operations for the city’s residents.

“This is the third year that we’ve done this,” said Brent Detwiler, city engineer of the city of Hendersonville. “We try to do most of the work in the winter months so we’re not affecting the city’s merchants. But with this particular project we have less merchants in the block we’re working on. This particular phase of the project was a little more complicated so it’s running longer than the other two.”

A fountain was built at the corner of one of the intersections and improvements to a building facade were done as part of the street scape project. There has been a large amount of rainfall in the area this year. As a result, the contractor lost six to seven weeks.

Work on the project has been proceeding one block at a time, according to Detwiler. Crews have the pavement ripped up in one block now, but it is compacted aggregate and the base is down. Currently there is little migration and erosion. The water line was 4 to 5 ft. (1.2 to 1.5 m) deep; only 3 ft. (.9 m) for those lines is required. The old water line was built from cast iron pipes. The city has added a storm sewer system.

“We had somewhat substandard drainage in this area,” said Detwiler. “There really wasn’t an existing storm sewer going through the area so we have added one and it’s the HDPE, high density polyethylene pipe. The diameter of this drain pipe varies from 15 to 24 inches in diameter. The project should be done in August after starting in January of 2013.”

It made sense to replace this water line now that everything is torn up, according to Detwiler. The alignment of the old water line would have been right underneath the old infrastructure, trees in the plaza area and concrete that is being installed.

“You don’t want to spend two million dollars total on a project and then have to go in a year from now and tear up sections because there is a leak in the old water line,” said Detwiler. “That’s the reasoning behind what we are doing.”

Funding for this project comes from Hendersonville’s city budget. There is one general contractor on the project in addition to three subcontractors working with them. Trace Contractors is the general contractor, out of nearby Mountain Home, N.C. The project has ranged from 10 to 15 workers onsite at any one time. This is the final phase of the project that started in 2011.

“The feedback we’ve been hearing regarding the project — especially from the city’s area merchants — has been very positive,” said Detwiler. “We also plan on entering the finished product with this work into various area competitions involving the best designs on Main Street and other plans the planners and landscape architects are involved in.”

Trees planted varied from Lace-barked elm, Dogwoods, Magnolias, Red maples and others. A landscape architect assisted with the selections, according to Detwiler.

“We’ve pretty much been involved in the building on all three phases of the work in the city of Hendersonville,” said Todd Trace, who owns Trace Constructors and Company with his wife, Lisa. “For the most part we’ve used two Cat 305CCRs and one Cat 257 B2 skid steer. The people involved from the city of Hendersonville have been excellent to work with, a good group of people. This includes the engineering department and the department of public works. We’ve worked with them on a couple of previous phases of the project too.

“We are blessed and fortunate to have this work over the three phase, three year period of the project. We do a lot of work with earthworks, curbing, sidewalks and gutters; when I started I was involved in earthworks only. My business started up in back in 1987. The operation started out with me and one other individual. We have grown over the years to be up to 50 employees. At the present time we average somewhere in the mid-thirties as far as our workforce. We are climbing back up; but everyone’s also a bit skittish about increasing too fast after what everyone’s been through.”

Including trucks, trailers and other machinery involved in construction, this business now has close to 85 pieces of equipment. Trace Constructors and Company are completing renovations for the Fresh Market in Hendersonville as well as work in communities all around this scenic mountain area of North Carolina.

“We’ve lost perhaps six weeks of work due to rainy weather this year,” said Trace. “We get out there and work as fast as we can between rain showers. Some of the work we even do in the rain. Concrete of course cannot be poured in the rain, so that’s our biggest concern. After the concrete sets up it is fine to have it get rain on it. But there has to be at least a half-day window to get the concrete on the ground and setting up before the rain comes.”

All the gravel work is being done by Trace. In addition, an electrical contractor is wiring street lights in the area, according to Trace.

“We knew what we were up against with this project,” said Trace. “Starting with the other phases we did know what to expect. Other than a water line here and there as well as some old coal chutes now and then that we didn’t see or count on that we had to block up. After doing that we’d just move on with the project. Nothing out of the ordinary such as old graves or bones were found.”

Trace encountered old trolley tracks a year or so back. In that case, crews ripped up the iron tracks and put them aside to be included in a museum once they are cleaned. Trace also did some sidewalk work in nearby Brevard, N.C. They are now preparing to start a new project in the scenic city.