MUSKOGEE, Okla. — New polyethylene water lines are starting to replace Fort Gibson's old, steel-cast lines.

Fort Gibson Public Works and Cook Construction crews spent part of last week replacing lines in an area bordered by East Poplar, Garrison, Bois D'Arc and Lee streets. Waterlines also are being replaced along Poplar Street, from Jackson to Railroad Street, and along Lee Street between Hickory and Walnut streets.

Fort Gibson Utility Supervisor Jason Million said the town plans to five waterlines with 1,800 linear feet of 6-inch polyethylene pipe.

"We're replacing old steel-cast lines with poly line, which is easier to work with, better life expectancy," he said. "For sanitation purposes, it's a better system."

Million said steel-cast pipe, unlike polyethylene, deteriorates over time.

"And once it's underground, unless there's movement in the ground or something hitting it, the poly is much better," he said.

Fort Gibson's steel-cast water pipes date back to the 1950s through the 1970s. Fort Gibson utility employee Ruben Kisner said he saw one pipe dating to 1909 and another from 1964.

Million said the pipeline replacement program has been in the works since fiscal year 2017. Line replacement is funded partly by a federal grant through Rural Energy for America Program and local funds.

"We broke ground on it this year," Million said, adding "bits and pieces" have been replaced since earlier this year.

Crews were working in the Garrison to Lee Street area in March, but near-record flooding in late May delayed waterline work. Million said Cook Construction played a vital role repairing flood damage and preventing further damage. 

"They worked with us and Muskogee," Million said. "They were instrumental in helping Muskogee's water plant and Georgia-Pacific."

Million said workers "prioritized in other locations." He declined to speculate about when the entire project would be completed.

"We've got another section we've got to tie in that we're going to start working on," he said. "We prioritized in other locations."

He said other parts of town that need updated waterlines include West Walnut Street, from Southwest Railroad Street to South Scott Street to West Maple Street and South Wheeler.

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