Unexpected delays experienced in culvert, sewer plant work

City projects hit a snag

OBSERVER Photo by Nicole Gugino Pictured are cords and lines crossing Crooked Brook at the site of the Howard Street culvert project.

The Howard Avenue culvert project has hit a little snag — or a waterline. The wastewater treatment plant will also need some unanticipated work.

The culvert project was originally delayed due to gas and electric utility rerouting, but it was another type of utility that caused the most recent delay.

“We found out that the city waterline is embedded in the foundation of the old culvert, so we’re going to connect the waterline on Bataan onto Howard. That’s going to take us a day to do that; it’s all designed and ready to go. We’re under budget and the fire hydrants need to be replaced on West Howard anyhow. It’s something we expected to do after the culvert was done, we have to do it before the culvert is done. … We had no way to know that. The culvert was built in 1910, so there’s nobody around to talk to to say ‘why’d you do it that way?'” Department of Public Works Director Randy Woodbury told the DPW Committee recently.

He added the project will still move forward after the waterline is moved.

“When it rains, it pours,” seems to be the trajectory of the wastewater treatment plant project. The city has begun the bar screen and grit removal portions of the project, which will be followed by the sludge removal system. In the midst of moving forward on that work, the city also identified $37,800 in pipes and valves needing replacement.

OBSERVER Photo by Nicole Gugino Pictured is work on the Howard Street culvert project that has been delayed by utility work and now moving a waterline.

A month after that change order was made, the city found more in need of replacement.

“What we discovered is there’s a lot of latent, broken equipment, more so than we initially thought. It’s good to know that, not good that it happened. It’s a lesson in deferred maintenance. You can defer fixing stuff, but when you finally have to fix it because everything starts to break, the cost is extra high,” Woodbury said, noting there may be money left over from low bids to cover some of the nearly $140,000 needed valve replacements. “… We’re fast tracking this project because we know what developments are coming in. We’re working with them … they call me almost every day with issues, so I’m working with them every day to facilitate all of the developments that we know are in the works to assure them that our infrastructure is robust, which means we have to continue fixing stuff.”

Woodbury also reported on Seal Street will see new waterlines, meaning better fire protection and a newly paved road this year.

“Seal Street is the Hoyt Street for this year,” he said, referencing the Community Development Block Grant project completed in 2017.

However, he said Lafayette Street, which suffers from the same fire protection and pot hole issues, will only be undertaken if there is money left after Seal Street.

“It’s as bad as Seal Street, but as I looked at the cost of the waterline, I just don’t know how much we’ll have left,” Woodbury added.

Engineer Andy Bohn also reported sidewalk reimbursement submissions are underway and the garbage/recycling calendar will be available soon. He completed the garden bed survey and is going to work on a parking meter survey and a brick roads survey at the Common Council’s request as well as designing the culvert and parking lot for the dog park on Main Street Extension.

First Ward Councilman Don Williams Jr. clarified that the city will charge Revitalize Dunkirk only for materials to fabricate additional flower brackets. Fourth Ward Councilman Mike Civiletto reported the group has done well with fundraising for the flower baskets, receiving enough for 2018 and half of 2019.