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      Gervais construction continues; officials call project necessary

      COLUMBIA (WACH) -- If you've driven down Gervais Street in Columbia lately, chances are you've been dodging metal plates and construction cones.

      Columbia city officials say the water main rehabilitation project that started last month is expected to continue for another year, but the phase currently under construction could be completed by in about one week.

      City of Columbia Water and Sewer Technician Owen Livingston says if they don't do something about this now the water quality will decrease.

      "The rust, the tuberca and all that stuff in the pipes causes the water quality to be lesser and the fire flows to be less," he explains. "The pipe kind of clogs up so to speak.

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      This cleans it all out and makes it almost as good as a new pipe."

      Business owners like Gabriel Williams cope with the impact of this construction. Williams owns Mojitos Tropical Cafe.

      "I can't say that it hasn't affected us negatively, there has been times where we've been unusually slow. We're brand new on the block, we started in August, and so we're building a strong customer base."

      Williams is glad this phase of the project will be completed in early March.

      "You could see the stuff was coming out of the ground there, and it was long overdue, so I'm glad they're fixing it, they've done it pretty fast considering."

      Livingston says the state Department of Transportation owns Gervais Street and determines when crews are scheduled to work.

      "Our customers are pretty loyal," Williams adds. "They just walked around the cones and walked around the dirt and came inside."