Come spring 2020, making phone calls and sending texts won’t be an ordeal for the hundreds of Purcellville residents who have been stricken with cell coverage gaps in recent years.
The Town of Purcellville announced this week that painting and maintenance work on the Maple Avenue water tower, which began a year and a half years ago, has been completed and that the AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon antennas would be re-installed atop the tower following the completion of structural work on the tower to accommodate additional weight. The town is searching for a firm to handle that work and will make a selection soon after the early-November submission deadline. Once that three-month project wraps up, the carriers will need at least six weeks to re-install their antennas.
In June 2018, the townbegan repairs to the 205-foot-tall water tower, which forced the four cellular carriers to relocate their antennas to a shorter temporary cellular pole. That disrupted many town residents’ cell coverage, especially those living in the southwestern quadrant of town, who had already been experiencing cell coverage gaps.
According to a Nov. 1 town statement, during the repair work, townstaff realized that the water tower would need a few structural modifications to support the additional weight of the cellular carriers’ new equipment. The design of those modifications is being completed by the cell carriers’ engineer and will be reviewed by the town’s engineer.
As for that work, the town issued a request for proposals to solicit responses from firms interested in undertaking the project. Responses are due by early November, at which point the town will “promptly” select a contractor. The work will be completed within 90 days once the town signs a contract with a firm.
Once that work is complete, the cellular carriers will re-install their antennas and new equipment within at least six weeks, although some cellular equipment could be installed while the structural work is being performed.
But that day will come a year after the town previously anticipated it would arrive.
In October 2018, Suez Water Technologies, the firm that performed the water tower repairs, informed the town that thework could be done by the end of 2018 and that the antennas could be re-installed by March 2019.