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City is struggling with two major utility and street projects this year
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Two municipal utility projects along Field Street and Gowan Road are underwater, in more ways than one.

Merrill Gravel and Construction has been working for months on the reconstruction of Gowan Road from 10th Avenue to Spring Brook, and on Field Street from Seventh to Eighth Avenues, but the projects are far behind schedule and have been assessed fines upwards of $1,200 a day since mid-September.

And to add insult to injury, the company must also repair 200 feet of Eighth Avenue between Field Street and the bridge, which it pulverized by accident.

It is a perfect storm of issues.

“They have done city projects in the past, some time ago,” Director of Administrator Services Mark Desotell said. “They do quality work but it is taking too long.”

The backlog has snarled traffic too and from the high school at 10th Avenue and Gowan Road, a major thoroughfare, and even caused Charley Brickmeier of the public works department to send out an update and apology to property owners along the affected streets.

“I sincerely apologize for the delay,” Brinkmeier said in the letter, pointing to a combination of factors including the weather and “unforeseen delays.”

“If the weather cooperates, they will be able to complete the entire project during this 2018 construction season,” Brinkmeier wrote the property owners. “If winter does come early, we do have plans to provide paved access to your homes during the winter months. Construction would then be completed in the spring.”

The main culprit is along Gowan Road, which is being rebuilt from 10th Avenue to Spring Brook.

According to Desotell, the sewer lines in the roadbed are up to 24 feet deep, requiring a massive, careful and very slow excavation prior to the rebuild. And the system the company employed for keeping water out of those deep trenches, known as dewatering, has proven to be far from adequate.

“They went into the project knowing it was going to be a challenging construction,” Desotell said. “The water has slowed them down to a standstill. They are coming nowhere near their predicted level of layering the pipe because of that high water level.”

The slog along Gowan Road has pushed back completion of the Field Street project, similar in scope if not in complexity.

But in a sign of just how star-crossed the work is going, an operator of blacktop pulverizing equipment went too far along Eighth Avenuewhere he was supposed to only break up the blacktop at the intersectionand instead demolished the surface nearly to the bridge over Spring Brook, a distance of about 200 feet, before the error was discovered.

“It's the first time I heard of an operator making that mistake,” Desotell said.

It's not that large an issue, he added. The contractor is paying for repairs and the bridge and roadbed at Eighth Avenue is scheduled for replacement anyway.

The two street projects carry an estimated price tag of $1.7 million, with about half of the dollars coming through federal and state grants and the remainder through local sources.

The delays are costing the city and its residents more than patience through additional inspection costs. And Merrill Gravel and Construction is being assessed liquidated damages of $1,200 daily for every day the project takes beyond the original substantial completion date of Sept. 16. That number will likely be subject to negotiation but it still has the potential to be a staggering amount.

“The dewatering method was their choice,” Desotell said. “But what they are getting done, they are doing very well. Things just snowballed on them.”
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A QUIET DAY--It as soaking wet Thursday afternoon and no progress was being made on the big construction project that has been underway this summer on Gowan Road just south of 10th Avenue. A similar project is also underway on Field Street between Seventh and Eighth avenues.

City is struggling with two major utility and street projects this year
space
Two municipal utility projects along Field Street and Gowan Road are underwater, in more ways than one.

Merrill Gravel and Construction has been working for months on the reconstruction of Gowan Road from 10th Avenue to Spring Brook, and on Field Street from Seventh to Eighth Avenues, but the projects are far behind schedule and have been assessed fines upwards of $1,200 a day since mid-September.

And to add insult to injury, the company must also repair 200 feet of Eighth Avenue between Field Street and the bridge, which it pulverized by accident.

It is a perfect storm of issues.

“They have done city projects in the past, some time ago,” Director of Administrator Services Mark Desotell said. “They do quality work but it is taking too long.”

The backlog has snarled traffic too and from the high school at 10th Avenue and Gowan Road, a major thoroughfare, and even caused Charley Brickmeier of the public works department to send out an update and apology to property owners along the affected streets.

“I sincerely apologize for the delay,” Brinkmeier said in the letter, pointing to a combination of factors including the weather and “unforeseen delays.”

“If the weather cooperates, they will be able to complete the entire project during this 2018 construction season,” Brinkmeier wrote the property owners. “If winter does come early, we do have plans to provide paved access to your homes during the winter months. Construction would then be completed in the spring.”

The main culprit is along Gowan Road, which is being rebuilt from 10th Avenue to Spring Brook.

According to Desotell, the sewer lines in the roadbed are up to 24 feet deep, requiring a massive, careful and very slow excavation prior to the rebuild. And the system the company employed for keeping water out of those deep trenches, known as dewatering, has proven to be far from adequate.

“They went into the project knowing it was going to be a challenging construction,” Desotell said. “The water has slowed them down to a standstill. They are coming nowhere near their predicted level of layering the pipe because of that high water level.”

The slog along Gowan Road has pushed back completion of the Field Street project, similar in scope if not in complexity.

But in a sign of just how star-crossed the work is going, an operator of blacktop pulverizing equipment went too far along Eighth Avenuewhere he was supposed to only break up the blacktop at the intersectionand instead demolished the surface nearly to the bridge over Spring Brook, a distance of about 200 feet, before the error was discovered.

“It's the first time I heard of an operator making that mistake,” Desotell said.

It's not that large an issue, he added. The contractor is paying for repairs and the bridge and roadbed at Eighth Avenue is scheduled for replacement anyway.

The two street projects carry an estimated price tag of $1.7 million, with about half of the dollars coming through federal and state grants and the remainder through local sources.

The delays are costing the city and its residents more than patience through additional inspection costs. And Merrill Gravel and Construction is being assessed liquidated damages of $1,200 daily for every day the project takes beyond the original substantial completion date of Sept. 16. That number will likely be subject to negotiation but it still has the potential to be a staggering amount.

“The dewatering method was their choice,” Desotell said. “But what they are getting done, they are doing very well. Things just snowballed on them.”
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A QUIET DAY--It as soaking wet Thursday afternoon and no progress was being made on the big construction project that has been underway this summer on Gowan Road just south of 10th Avenue. A similar project is also underway on Field Street between Seventh and Eighth avenues.
2018
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