Wellington Takes Steps To Fix 40th Street Water Main

The Wellington Village Council awarded contracts to replace the entire water main and a culvert on 40th Street South on Tuesday to fix mistakes in the project, and approved a budget increase of about $471,000 to cover the increased cost.

Assistant Village Manager Jim Barnes said that during an ongoing road paving project on 40th Street, deficiencies were discovered in the water main running along the roadway.

Utilities Director Shannon LaRocque said the original 6,000-foot water main was installed in 1988 between South Shore Blvd. to the east and South Road to the west.

“Approximately six months ago, we discovered that there was muck underneath the existing water main, and approximately 1,600 feet of it was removed so that the muck could be removed,” LaRocque said. “After further due diligence, in cooperation with the contractor on site today, we determined that the entire 6,000 feet has muck underneath it, so it has to be replaced.”

She said it would be installed along the south edge of the new roadway, backfilled and restored.

Mayor Anne Gerwig asked for clarification that the water main replacement was on village property and was not related to the roadway construction project underway.

Councilman Michael Drahos said the project should be done, despite the additional cost. “There’s no way this can be ignored,” Drahos said. “We have muck there, and it has to be fixed.”

Vice Mayor John McGovern asked how the village found itself in this situation, and Barnes said that the construction of the original line was about 28 years ago.

“The original installation back then occurred without the removal of any of the organic subsurface material,” he said. “I suspect we cannot put ourselves now at the head of whoever made that design and construction project, but we can assume that the thought process back then was that no road was necessarily planned at the time. You had, at the time, a dirt road with access to parcels that are in that area.”

Only 1,600 feet of pipe was originally going to be replaced, which has been done, but since LaRocque and new Village Engineer Tom Lundeen had arrived, after consultation with a geological engineer, they determined that the entire 6,000 feet should be replaced, including the 1,600 feet that was installed about six months ago.

“How was this missed?” McGovern asked, and Barnes said it was by people who aren’t with the village anymore who decided that the 1,600 feet was all the work that needed to be done.

“I think what you have here currently is the engineers involved in the project now are of a consensus that the unsuitable material has to be removed, and also that the existing pipeline material should not be reused,” Barnes said.

Village Manager Paul Schofield said that when the 1,600 feet was replaced, several feet of muck was removed from under it, but not the complete muck layer.

“They didn’t go all the way down to good material,” Schofield said. “I don’t find fault with it. What I do know is that when the contractor got in to do the road, and they started to remove all the muck material, what happened is that the flow of muck material under that pipe started to move, and that’s when that pipe started to flex. It doesn’t make sense to put a paved road over the top of something that we know we’re going to be fixing in a couple of years if we don’t do it now.”

Gerwig asked whether, if a private contractor had done the work, the village could hold the company responsible.

“This was an in-house design, correct?” she asked.

Barnes said that from a management perspective, if the work was not performed within the acceptable standard of care and provisions of the contract, they would look at it as an error of omission.

“I think both engineers who sit here before you today are of the opinion that most of the work, if not all the work, that we perform on particularly large-scale projects needs to be sub-consulted out,” he said.

Gerwig said she had brought the increased cost to the auditor because it was a significant amount.

Drahos asked when the project would be finished, and LaRocque said they would mobilize on Monday, and it would take about two months.

Schofield added that construction of the roadway would be delayed about two months while the new pipe is installed.

Drahos made a motion to approve the necessary budget resolution, which carried 5-0.

The council also awarded a contract for construction of a new concrete culvert under 40th Street connecting the C-4 Canal to the C-24 Canal.

Schofield said that the old culvert is corrugated metal and more than 40 years old.

“It is in the Acme budget,” Schofield said. “It is simply faster and cheaper to do it now. It is proposed to be replaced with a concrete pipe, and that concrete pipe should have a useful life of in excess of 70 years.”

McGovern made a motion to approve the contract, which also carried 5-0.