City shutting off water forces some businesses to close

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Nearly a thousand people won’t have water in Central Austin on Wednesday. The city is turning it off to work on some water pipes as part of the Shoal Creek Ridgela Storm Drain Improvements Project. Several business owners are not happy about the timing of the shutoff.

“I have no option, it is really short notice and the only thing I can do is shut down,” said Joe Petrick, owner of Russell’s Bistro. “You have to operate a restaurant with safety first and without running water there’s absolutely nothing I can do.”

Between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. the city will turn off services for the areas bordered by Mopac to the west, Jefferson and Glenview to the east, W. 30th St., to the south and the Austin State School Annex to the north.

The city said it gave out notices to people in the area last Friday.

“I fully support any remodeling, renovation, construction and all of that stuff that makes this place what it is, I just feel like there has to be a better compromise,” said Petrick who wishes the city would do the work from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Austin Water said the area is mostly made up of residents and said it would be better to work on the water lines during the day when most people are not home.  Jason Hill, spokesperson for Austin Water, said construction crews can’t work at night because it would be too loud.

“Interrupting water service period, whether it’s at night or during the day, it’s a big inconvenience,” Hill explained.  “The benefit at the end of the day when we get this project done tomorrow and the finish out in the days to come, it will be worth the inconvenience of the work during the day.”

Construction on the $4 million project started July 2013 and is expected to wrap up later this year.  Funding for the project came from a 2006 bond.  It’s expected to help reduce flooding in streets and home in the Ridgelea neighborhood by upgrading the storm drain systems.

The city said crews are currently installing 4,000 feet of new storm drain pipes and 5,700 feet of new water lines and 2,000 feet of new waste water lines.

The Ridgelea neighborhood was built in the 1940s before the city developed drainage rules for new subdivisions.  Home owners often see flooding because the storm drainage system is too small.  During the Memorial Day Flood of 1981, it was one of the hardest hit neighborhoods in the area.  Several homes were even bought out.

Petrick isn’t the only business owner closing his doors. Mark Thomas, owner of Mark Thomas Studio, said he is closing his salon which forced him to cancel 40 appointments and expects to lose at least $4,000.

The city says it plans to provide temporary water service to medical offices at The Jefferson which is at 1600 West 38th Street.

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