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Mitchell Road disrupted by two projects
Mitchell Road has been troublesome to navigate this summer - with delays and traffic backups - thanks to two separate projects going on at the same time.

An overlay has been in the works for Mitchell Road from Hatch Road to the Tuolumne River bridge. Paving has occurred at nights to minimize traffic impacts during the day but an accident with a grinder Sunday evening knocked out the traffic signals at Mitchell and Hatch and forcing all traffic to flow stop and go.

Paving is expected to be complete this week with striping and other work to take the $730,000 contract until the middle of July, said City Engineer Toby Wells.

Disruptions are occurred south of Whitmore Avenue where work is being done on the Barbour's sewer lift station. The city intended to commence the work in February but encountered problems with design issues and the ordering of materials. Lane closures associated with the Barbour's lift station are expected to be over by July 4.

Wells said the backhoe at the edge of the shopping center near Delta Blood Bank is there to install a new "wet well," or sewer receiving pit that services flows from all over northeast Ceres and pumps effluent to the south.

Wells said the $472,000 project will remedy a sewer flow "bottleneck" at the location which "has been an operational challenge."

Most of the wastewater from Eastgate and other areas of northeast Ceres makes its way down the Mitchell Road line by gravity flow. The project will install a force main designed to push more flow toward the treatment plant at the southwest corner of Ceres. Currently the city has only one pump at the lift station

"It eliminates the bigger problem operating with no safety net," said Wells. "There will be two pumps versus one and we'll be increasing capacity."

On occasions where flow exceeded capacity, wastewater has overflowed into Mitchell Road.

Wells said spot locations on Mitchell Road will be closed to allow for work between Whitmore Avenue and Don Pedro Road.

In an attempt to shorten the construction period - since it affects traffic on one of Ceres' busiest roads - the city is offering Preston Pipelines a $3,000 per day incentive for finishing up earlier than the 21 days allotted. Wells said that could mean the contractor works in multiple shifts.

The incentive program, which is capped at $30,000, is modeled after one routinely used by Caltrans to speed up work, said Wells.

The project is one of the last to be funded by the Ceres Redevelopment Agency. The state of California has abolished redevelopment agencies as a way of seizing coffers for the state budget.