Wednesday, July 11, 2012

$200K increase on Woodside project

City says utility companies delaying project

Express Staff Writer

Sections of Woodside Boulevard have been torn up this spring and summer as part of a multi-million-dollar improvement project. Photo by David N. Seelig

The Hailey City Council voted Monday, July 2, to allow a $200,000 increase in expenses for the redevelopment of Woodside Boulevard, for the purpose of installing automatic irrigation lines and sprinklers on portions of the 2.5 mile-long project.

Utility companies scheduled to relocate infrastructure in advance of the street construction are causing delays, resulting in a letter from the city to the federal government seeking more rapid relocation of utility lines.

The $200,000 irrigation system will be installed by All Seasons landscaping company, a subcontractor of Knife River, which is undertaking the entire $5.26 million Woodside Boulevard reconstruction project.

"Irrigation was not part of our original plan," said Mayor Fritz Haemmerle at a City Council meeting July 2.

Haemmerle said he had been advised recently by Councilman Pat Cooley to include irrigation lines in a buffer zone between the street and planned sidewalks, known as a "planting strip."

The irrigation system will include a $1,700 computer-monitoring feature that will alert city staff in case of problems in the line, such as breakages. The $200,000 cost includes a 5 percent mark-up for Knife River, a requirement under federal law, said Haemmerle.

Cooley, a resident of Woodside Boulevard, recused himself from the council vote to install the irrigation system. He also advised the council to authorize Knife River to spray material along the boulevard that will keep the dust down during the dry summer months.

"For one of my neighbors, the dust has become a health problem," Cooley said.

Councilwoman Carol Brown said her mother, who travels by wheelchair, got stuck in dirt while trying to cross the Woodside Boulevard construction project.

"They [Knife River employees] came running and helped her out," said Brown. "I have heard from others that they are very helpful and dong a good job."

Public Works Director Tom Hellen sent a letter on June 25 to the Federal Highways Administration, indicating that utilities companies were taking longer than expected to relocate transmission lines.

The lines have to be relocated in advance of street construction crews that are working on a tight deadline in order to complete the Woodside Boulevard reconstruction this summer.

In a letter to the Highways Administration, Hellen wrote to that the utility companies were in "breach of contract" due to the delays. He also stated that Civil Science an engineering company hired to oversee many other aspects of the redevelopment project, would from now coordinate the line relocations with the utility companies, to get the work completed on schedule.

The city runs the risk of losing federal grant funding if strict guidelines, including costs and scheduling, are not followed during the project.

Tony Evans:

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