Heavy equipment is a common sight around Lynchburg. Workers have been digging up city streets almost constantly for the last 20 years.
It's part of the Combined Sewer Overflow project, sometimes referred to as "CSO."
"Even though it's taken us 20 years, we've made a lot of progress," said Lynchburg's water quality manager, James Talian.
CSO is fixing a longstanding problem. When Lynchburg gets heavy rain, the sewers flood and overflow.
Workers have been gradually digging up sewers and separating the lines from drain pipes that carry storm water. Today, the problem is said to be 80% fixed.
"We have drastically reduced the problem, from a billion gallons (of runoff) per year, to 200-million gallons a year," Talian said.
Now that progress has been made, city officials are thinking about changing tactics.
Instead of continuing to separate underground lines, upgrades could be made to the wastewater treatment plant. That could shorten the CSO program by 10 years and cut the remaining cost of the project in half; a savings of roughly $100-million.
"It's hard to argue with better water quality and less cost," said Talian.
The change could also keep city workers from having to do major construction downtown.
"I am thrilled," said Leecy Fink, owner of a bridal shop on Main Street. She's been concerned about the possibility of CSO work driving away customers.
"The potential impact on an individual business is great, especially if you think about our whole city block being closed down and what that could mean to a business like mine, where people have to constantly get in and out to pick up things," Fink said.
Fink and others downtown may not be completely out of the woods. The sewer lines that run through downtown Lynchburg are some of the oldest in the city. Even if the CSO program changes, pipes that run under the streets will still have the be replaced.
"It won't completely eliminate construction downtown, but it will reduce the magnitude and duration," said Talian.
The proposed changes to the CSO project aren't final yet. City officials still have to get state and federal approval before moving forward.