Thursday, October 25, 2012

Will it never end?

Stormwater project takes on a life of its own

The Madison Valley Stormwater Project was supposed to have been completed in the autumn of 2011. Yet to the consternation of both Madison Valley merchants and drivers inconvenienced by delays along Madison Street, it's obvious that as autumn 2012 begins to wind down, the Stormwater Project has yet to make it over the finish line. What's the story?

According to Grace Manzano, the Seattle Public Utilities project manager, the City's failure to meet the original timetable is the result of unanticipated conditions, bad luck, and at least one mis-step that occurred during construction. It's true that the principal objectives of the project (the building of an underground stormwater pipeline to connect with a newly constructed storage tank in Washington Park) were accomplished last November.  Additionally, a project to improve surface-water drainage along E. Madison Street through Madison Valley was also completed on time.

But what didn't happen on schedule was the landscaping of the stormwater tank area in Washington Park.  Because of inclement weather at the end of last year and a desire by the City not to negatively impact the parking situation in Madison Valley during the holiday shopping season, says Manzano, completion of the landscaping was delayed until the anticipated "better weather" of spring 2012.  Work on the project was re-initiated in May.

Landscaping around the cistern is more than slightly behind schedule

However, several problems immediately impeded construction, according to Manzano. First of all, a 100-year-old water main which passes through the Park coincidentally failed and had to be repaired. There was also the problem of weather during the spring which, as some may recall, was extremely wet. The biggest source of project delay, however, was the realization that the original landscaping plan made assumptions about soil conditions in the Park that were not true. "Slope stabilization" immediately became a problem once work began, says Manzano, because the "specifications were not consistent with actual site conditions."  In other words, the existing soil was insufficient to hold in place the slope which connects E. Madison St. to the lower area surrounding the storage tank.

As a result of this discovery, it became necessary for the CIty to remove and replace the existing soil and rebuild the slope. The landscaping design was also significantly revised, Manzano reports, so that there was a significant increase in the number of trees planted to further stabilize the slope. What was originally a 130-tree plan became a 200-tree plan.

Parking continues to be impacted along E. Madison Street

Each of these factors led to both the project delay and to the higher-than-anticipated level of construction disruption along E. Madison Street during the summer and early fall. Additionally, 28th Avenue E. at the intersection with Madison was closed to traffic for the first two weeks of this month because of an earlier construction error.  Manzano reports that when the area was dug up to remove boulders encountered during the underground boring operation, the area was not properly resealed. As a result, stormwater entered at least two buildings (including the one housing restaurant Luc). This problem had to be corrected by installation of some new drainage infrastructure in the area, a job that was completed last week.

So are we done yet?  Manzano says the City hopes to complete the project in the month and a half.  We shall see.

The Washington Park playfield is also being resurfaced

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.