Not in My Back Yard – But Wait, It Is!

Andy Williams can’t get away from his job.  For the last 8 months, the 17-year Louisville Water Company veteran, has been working and living in a construction zone.

The Senior Technical Engineer oversees a yearlong project replacing the large water main that runs right down the middle of Frankfort Avenue. He also lives nearby with his wife and two children.

The project is challenging.  Though most of the work is near the Crescent Hill Water Treatment Plant, the construction zone is in the heart of the historic Crescent Hill neighborhood. It includes homes, businesses, recreational facilities, a major railway, and schools.

Add to the mix several other Louisville Water projects in and around the plant and things can get complicated.  Williams says it can be a juggling act, but he takes it all in stride, “Working in a business corridor is challenging, but you get used to it,” said Williams.  What’s his secret, “Most of my neighbors know where I work but don’t know that it’s my project.”

While that might be mostly true, staff at Field Elementary (the school his daughter also attends) beg to differ.  The school sits beside the plant, near some of the heaviest construction.

“Having a Field parent in charge of this giant project has been a bonus for us. Andy has helped us rework pickup and drop-off routes to make for a smooth carpool,” said Principal Deb Rivera. “When we have questions, Andy is our ‘answer man’ and he always responds quickly.”

The $16.6 million project will increase the size and reliability of critical water mains near the treatment plant.  And while area business owners and residents recognize the importance of the work, it isn’t always smooth sailing.

“Starting work in the middle of a pandemic with already hard-hit businesses, and worn-out homeowners, is not a great recipe for success,” said Vince Guenthner, Louisville Water’s Manager of Government Affairs. “But Andy patiently pivots to keep the work moving and the area safe. Changing detours, adding speed humps, and constantly updating signage, lets customers know we are listening to their concerns.”

Williams is a trained civil engineer with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering and Master of Engineering and Business degrees.  His dad, Barry Williams, is a Louisville Water retiree and former manager in the IT Department.  This helped his son secure summer work cleaning basins and working with maintenance mechanics at the plant, where now he’s managing a multi-million-dollar project.

At his desk, Williams sports a sign that says, “The Most Pleasant Angry Person You’ll Ever Meet”. Long time co-worker, Louisville Water Inspector Tony Gathof, says don’t let the sign fool you, “Andy is a great planner and that always makes an inspector’s job easier. He’s taught me many things over the past few decades that have made me a better inspector.  Louisville Water is lucky to have him.”

When asked to rate the difficulty of the Frankfort Avenue project on a scale of one to ten, with 10 being extremely challenging, Williams calmly replies, “It’s an 8 or 9. I once had a project working on the primary water main leaving the B.E. Payne Plant where we couldn’t turn the main off while doing the work for a live 60-inch inspection.

You get the feeling it’s all in a day’s work and it doesn’t really matter what the task is, Williams is ready for the next project.  That next project will have to wait until at least early fall, when the Frankfort Avenue project winds down.

When the work is done, he’ll leave behind something in much better shape than he found it.  A more reliable system will benefit the entire service area and new sidewalks, trees, and tree wells will spruce up the Crescent Hill neighborhood that he calls home.