BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – A representative of an engineering and consulting firm said a city sidewalk project is about $400,000 short of needed funds.
The project, which is slated to begin in March, would replace the city’s dilapidated sidewalk and curbing on Avenue G from 6th to 10th Streets at a cost of approximately $1.5 million.
The majority of the funding is a reimbursement program from the state where interest paid on the city’s waste water treatment plant through the state’s revolving loan program can be refunded to the city for a project that helps promote better stewardship of the storm water runoff.
Douglas Happ, a physical engineer with HRGreen out of Cedar Rapids, said the total amount able to be refunded by the state is coming up about $400,000 short of the estimated cost of the project.
“We’re pretty close to being in budget but there are some items that are up for discussions” said Larry Driscoll, the city’s public works director.
Happ said to do the project as currently designed from 6th to 10th Street, the project’s over budget.
“Right now to do it end-to-end we’re probably $400,000 over budget. So we need to go back in and look at that. We did redesign the planter boxes and we sat down and started thinking of how else can this work.”
One of the options being considered is stopping the project at 9th Street, but Happ said right now the plan is to rework parts of the design to include 10th Street and bring those plans back to the council hopefully by the next meeting.
The work entails taking all the curbing and sidewalks from the north and south sides of the streets and replacing them with about five feet of pervious, or pourous, brick from the curbing back about five feet and then the remaining distance from the brick to the building would be American Disabilities Act compliant concrete. Happ said the pervious brick is not ADA compliant so the concrete sidewalk has to be part of the plan.
Happ said the plan will not include any entryway steps past the concrete and will not have street impact, other than some planter boxes that are being planned that will help remove street water. The box had to be included as part of the plan to take the street water because the south side of Main Street didn’t qualify for the project until the street water removal piece was added.
Below the pervious brick will be four to six feet of a gravel filter base and then storage tanks that slowly allow the filtered water back into the city’s regular storm water lines.
Street planter boxes will also hold dirts and sands that the Department of Natural Resources has recommended as good filters for the storm water. The boxes would contain a native grass that would grow to about 18-24 inches high. The boxes would not inhibit parking, Happ said.
The boxes, if done precast, could save the city about $56,000 on the project. Happ said the revenue team at HRGreen is working to find ways to make the project fit the allowable budget.
Driscoll said the city is also talking with Alliant about putting generic lighting in which could save some money. He said the city or Main Street could look at installing more decorative lighting as Main Street moves forward.
Happ said construction would take place block by block and not all at one time.
“The contract will require them to take block one and demo that block and then the demo crew can go to the next block, while the next crews put the first block back together. We won’t let them go to the third block until the first is completed,” Happ said “We’re trying to minimize the disturbance to the businesses because we recognize this is an interest to their stores. We feel by doing it block by block, we minimize the impact on the business owner.”
He said it would take 45 to 60 days to demo and rebuild each block. But temporary entrances and access ramps will be provided for business owners.
The time table would put completion in November of 2019.
“We’ve had a bit of a time lapse with the different designs and cost-savings measures. We’re looking at a public hearing in December with construction set to begin in March or April and will take until November of 2019,” Happ said.
Councilman Chris Greenwald said he was glad there was so much communication going on between HRGreen and the business owners.
“I like what I hear as far as you’re working with the businesses. I think that’s great,” Greenwald said. “You’re taking them into consideration. That could be devastating to a business.”
In other action, the council:
• voted 5-1 to approve appointing someone to fill the position vacated by Travis Seidel’s resignation on June 15. Councilman Bob Morawitz voted against the measure saying the open seat should be voted on by those in the third ward. The appointment must be made by Aug. 15, per state law, but a petition could be filed by someone in the ward to force a special election.
• voted 6-0 to approve a professional services agreement with HRGreen for design and construction services to replace Hwy. 61 from 2nd to 6th Streets. The construction is now set to begin next spring.
• voted 6-0 to approve a one-year contract for transportation services with Southeast Iowa Regional Planning commission effective July 1.