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8th Ave. project nearly 11 weeks behind schedule

November 16, 2018

BELLE FOURCHE –– Belle Fourche’s Eighth Avenue project is nearly 11 weeks behind schedule with no end in sight.

Steve Nafus, interim city engineer, said during Tuesday’s construction update meeting that paving of the last block of Eighth Avenue before it reaches National Street continues to be delayed for the last two weeks while the contractors chase down a slow leak.

“They’ve got it (the leak) slowed down, but it (the water system in that area) still isn’t holding any pressure,” he said.

Construction crews have even had to dig up some already laid paving to try to track down the phantom leak.

“They’ve gone back, and in that one block, there’s a lot of fittings (connecting the pieces of pipe) and every one of those fittings they’ve dug up and were checking to see if it’s (the leak is at) a fitting,” Nafus said.

Aggravating the circumstances is the fact that the leak isn’t major.

“This isn’t a big leak,” Nafus said. “Enough that it won’t pass the (pressure) test.”

The location of the potential leak is in an area of less than a block and a half, Nafus said.

“This is basically from what we call West Lawrence (Street) up to East Lawrence (Street),” he said. “That one little stretch there.”

Chris Robinson, project engineer with HDR Engineering, of Rapid City, the contracted engineering firm on the project, said potential negative consequences in the form of liquidated damages imposed upon the construction company accumulate each day. The original completion date of Sept. 1 was pushed back to mid-October. Work continues now into the fourth week following the extension deadline. Each workday beyond Oct. 15 racks up $900 in penalties against Heavy Constructors, the contractor awarded the project. Assuming crews worked Monday through Friday, the construction company is on the hook for more that $20,000 worth of penalties.

Currently, Robinson said, the construction company has not applied for a second time extension that could, if approved by the city, eliminate some or all of the financial penalties.

Nafus said Heavy Constructors has brought in extra crews to try to get the project wrapped up as quickly as possible.

No representative from Heavy Constructors was present at Tuesday’s meeting.

To date, approximately $3.368 million of the $4.13 million project has been paid, leaving approximately $861,765 worth of budgeted funds remaining.

The project’s design includes a new sanitary sewer main under Eighth Avenue, starting at the State Street lift station, continuing underneath the Belle Fourche River and near the post office at Eighth Avenue and State Street to the south, ending near National Street.

Currently, Eighth Avenue is closed from State Street south to just after the police department on Jackson Street. Traffic is detoured around the closure.

Work has extended into the field to the west of Eighth Avenue and will continue underneath the Hay Creek Bridge on National Street and wrapping up on Seventh Avenue near Lynn’s Dakotamart. Nafus said National Street will be closed for 2-3 weeks while crews work to lay pipe underneath the roadway.

The city intends to make needed repairs the Hay Creek Bridge as soon as Eighth Avenue is completely reopened.

The National Street Bridge that runs over Hay Creek just east of Lynn’s Dakotamart is in need of repair work, and the city Oct. 15 awarded a $917,672.95 bid to Journey Group Ainsworth-Benning. Six other companies submitted bids, ranging from $917,672.95 to $1.216 million. The city budgeted $1 million for the project in the 2019 budget.

Nafus said Tuesday that he is unsure when the bridge project will begin but advised that there could be some overlap between the two projects. National Street will be closed for the duration of the bridge repair project, which is slated to be finished by June 1, 2019.

The city engineer’s office, in conjunction with HDR Engineering, Inc., and Heavy Constructors typically meet every other Tuesday morning to discuss the project’s progress. However, due to scheduling conflicts, the next meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Nov. 28. The construction update meetings are open to the public and held in the upstairs conference room at Belle Fourche City Hall, located at 511 Sixth Ave.

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