Work crews unearth challenges on Division
But project remains on schedule
By Scott Bellile
The one-mile Division Street reconstruction project remains on schedule despite a delayed start and other unexpected problems.
“We ended up starting about two weeks late because of the weather. Where else but Wisconsin can you get 28 inches of snow and then a month later have 90-degree temperatures, you know?” New London Mayor Gary Henke said at the Meeting with the Mayor community talk held at New London Public Library on May 30. “The start got delayed, but actually, yes, it is on schedule, and they’re moving right along. They’ve run into a few complications again in the project with old sewers, old water lines and so forth, and they seem to be overcoming those really well.”
Since late April, crews have been working to upgrade storm sewer, sanitary sewer systems and water mains. Reconstruction of the road will begin in August and the project is anticipated to wrap up in mid-fall.
Public Services Director Chad Hoerth elaborated on the project’s complications at a meeting of the New London Board of Public Works on Monday, June 4.
Hoerth said as the contractor installed the new sanitary sewer between Beacon Avenue and Oak Street, crews discovered some of the existing water main was leaking at the joints. In response, New London Utilities authorized the replacement of additional water mains that were not part of the original bid.
Due to the way the storm sewer was engineered, workers are also having to reroute the sanitary sewer laterals and water laterals around the storm sewer, which is slowing down the process, Hoerth said.
“I’ve been asking the questions, ‘Why is this happening?’ We paid for engineering so this wouldn’t happen,” Hoerth said. “I know that there was little to no field verification done for this project, so whether that was something that we were supposed to request in time or they just didn’t do it, I wasn’t involved in that aspect of this so I don’t know where that came from.”
Hoerth said he is working with the project’s consultant, OMNNI Associates, to determine if the city provided inaccurate measurements or if OMNNI made an error, along with who will be responsible for the added costs.
“But they’re going along as quickly as they can to keep the project going because at this point, it’s a matter of just keep on going, trying to work around this stuff as best as we can,” Hoerth said. “We can’t stop and try to reengineer everything. That would take forever.”
Despite the setbacks, Henke told the board he has received remarkably few complaints from residents. He praised Hoerth for preparing citizens. Hoerth’s efforts to thoroughly explain the project included holding multiple public information meetings, mailing 53-minute DVDs to all impacted residents, and maintaining a page on the city’s website.
Board member and First District Alderman Robert Besaw said people living along the work zone have told him they feel the project is needed.