WILLIAMSTOWN -- Drivers are encouraged to plan on road work closing down Latham Street through the end of next week.
"The work is to install a larger culvert underneath Latham Street for the inlet of Christmas Brook, leading to the face of the Williams College Field House," Director of Public Works Tim Kaiser said Monday. "I'm hoping that the work will be done by the end of next week."
The installation of a new box culvert will be carried out by contractor C.D. Davenport, of Greenfield, he said, at a cost of approximately $297,000.
Kaiser said the biggest reason for the replacement was the culvert's capacity during rain storms.
"With the storms we've been seeing over the past few years, the water flow has greatly exceeded the capacity of the pipe," he said.
Christmas Brook passes under Latham Street before running underneath the Williams College campus, he said, with the college maintaining its own culvert pipe. The brook runs underground for a distance of approximately 700 feet before passing underneath Water Street and emptying into the Green River.
The area of Latham and Meacham streets has historically seen flooding, caused by both the town and college's culvert pipes being too narrow to handle the flow of water. A number of homes in the area saw flooding during a storm on May 29, where nearly two inches of rain fell within 30 minutes.
"The town has opted to replace its piece with one that can last through a major storm," Kaiser said. "For now, our section of pipe is the biggest restriction."
The existing culvert pipe is four feet wide and five feet deep, he said, while the new pipe will be 18 feet wide and five feet deep.
"We're adding a tremendous amount of pipe for our end on Latham Street for when, at some point, the college decides to do work on their pipe," he said.
Work on Latham Street began last week when workers constructed a manhole on the existing drain pipe.
"Today, they closed the road and began to excavate the full width of the road," Kaiser said.
Crews are digging carefully to find utilities beneath the roadway, he explained, including lines for electricity, cable and Internet, street lights, sewer and water.
"They're trying to locate the utilities and figure out if there are any conflicts between the location of those facilities and where the culvert has to go," he said.
Kaiser said the town does not have records to show the existing culvert's age. Records do show the road was realigned to its current configuration in 1915, he said, and the culvert could have existed since then.
"I have plans from 1956 that show the culvert was already in then," he added. "What the contractor has found is there seems to be four different sections of construction. It looks like it's been built on and added onto over the years."
To reach Edward Damon, email