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2014 project may stop BE flooding

By Staff | Aug 12, 2012

The street/sewer/water project for 2014 in Blue Earth should have an added benefit.

Flood prevention.

On the agenda at last Monday’s regular Blue Earth City Council meeting was a detailed report on a possible 2014 project that would cover a wide area of the town south of 14th Street.

City engineer Wes Brown of Bolton and Menk Engineering presented six different versions of plans to alleviate the street and basement flooding issues in the southeast corner of the city.

Brown says a version of plan five or six would alleviate much of the problem.

But, it would come with a cost.

Just to install new storm sewer pipes, catch basins and patching the streets after the work is completed would run $245,000, the engineering report states.

“This is much less than the $863,000 we have listed on the five-year capital improvement plan,” City Administrator Kathy Bailey told the council. “But it is not a total street reconstruction project.”

City councilman Rick Scholtes asked what the projected costs of the project would be if sewer and water lines and a total street replacement were included.

Brown says that number would be $755,000, according to estimates.

“That is still under the $863,000 figure. I think we should do the total project,” Scholtes says. “That is what we have done with all the street projects so far.”

Councilman John Huisman agreed.

“We need to stay with the plan of doing a full reconstruction,” he says. “Not just a partial one.”

But, councilman Glenn Gaylord had another concern.

“When this is done, will it actually fix the (flooding) problem?” he asked.

Brown responded that it is engineered to cover a 10 year flooding event.

“It will take care of a 4.4 inch rain,” he says. “But maybe not a six, seven or eight inch rain.”

Brown says the storm sewer lines would be increased from the current 18 inch diameter pipe to 48 inch diameter.

Planning for a 20 year flood event would be more costly, Brown adds.

“This has been a problem area forever and has not been addressed in the past,” Mayor Rob Hammond says. “It is time we do so.”

In another item related to city projects, Bailey and Brown reported that the contractor on the airport project, Ulland Brothers Construction, is requesting an extension for completion of the new runway.

“They want a four week extension, to September,” Bailey told the council. “This could cost the city an additional $30,000 in engineering oversight costs.”

Bailey says there are three options not grant the extension and invoke the penalty for late completion; not grant it and negotiate with the contractor; grant it and pay the extra costs.

The penalty amounts to $500 per day over the completion date, Brown says. Councilman Scholtes says that amounts to $15,000 and would only cover half of the city’s increase in costs.

Engineer Brown says it was not rain that made for the delay, but rather the dry conditions.

“They have had to add water, more aggregate, while working on the sub base,” he says, but adds that it was the contractor who agreed to the date.

Currently there is one strip of concrete poured on the new runway.

The council voted to not extend the completion date of the runway. Councilman John Gartzke voted against the motion.