McKim & Creed, the engineering team hired in August to complete the oft-delayed Lift Station 87 project, assured residents at a meeting Dec. 18 that it will be able to finally finish the job.
For the past three months, McKim & Creed has been conducting research to determine how to proceed with the project, which was originally supposed to be completed by 2011. Project Manager Robert Garland, vice president at McKim & Creed, said the firm is now confident in its ability to successfully design and carry out a plan to get Lift Station 87 up and running.
The plan involves a combination of open-cut and microtunneling techniques to install underground pipes that will divert sewage from Lift Station 7, located at 935 Pomelo Ave. near the Hudson Bayou, to the new lift station at 1900 Mound St., in Luke Wood Park.
After consulting with the city, McKim & Creed is also recommending improvements along the streets that will be cut open to install pipes. These streets include Pomelo Avenue, Alta Vista Street and South Osprey Avenue near Lift Station 7. The improvements, which would include street resurfacing and new water mains, would be incorporated into the project’s overall cost, Garland said.
Some attendees at the meeting were uneasy about the use of microtunneling to install a sewer line beneath the Hudson Bayou. The previous engineering team, AECOM, was fired after complications stemming from its plans to microtunnel beneath the bayou, and the city is currently suing the team for its failure to complete the project.
Garland emphasized that the microtunneling problems were an issue with the previous approach, not with the process of microtunneling, itself. After conducting geological surveys of the bayou and measuring the depth of the Osprey Avenue bridge that crosses the water, Garland said microtunneling should not be an issue going forward.
“We felt the previous design didn’t take into account the geological subsurface conditions,” Garland said. “By doing the exhaustive investigation we did, we now have a better snapshot of what’s going on, and we’ll be able to construct it successfully.”
Attendees of the community workshop remained wary of a project that has continuously been pushed back. Jim Kosub, who lives on Pomelo Avenue near Lift Station 7, said he’s seen a lot of positive commentary from experts in the past, but the project has continued to run past deadlines.
“I still have a level of concern, and it’s only because of the history,” Kosub said. “We’ve heard all of this before.”
Kosub said he had more faith in McKim & Creed than he did in the previous engineering team and was encouraged by the level of communication between the group and residents. At a September community workshop, McKim & Creed said community outreach was one of the group’s highest priorities as it began work on the lift station project. Garland said he thinks they’ve been successful in that regard thus far.
“Where we’ve been transparent and open, it’s been a positive experience,” Garland said. “I think all we need to do is ask for their support throughout the rest of the project and it’ll be a success.”
McKim & Creed will present its preliminary design plans to the City Commission in January, and will seek approval to begin work on a full-fledged design to be completed by April. The group is targeting October as a start date for construction, and hopes to finish the project by November 2015. Garland was unable to provide an estimate for the cost of the next phases of the project, which has cost the city more than $8 million to date.
As the project continues to progress, Garland said the engineering team will maintain its focus on community outreach.
“We feel the frustration of the residents, and we’re going to continue to work with them the best we can to minimize the impacts of construction moving forward,” Garland said.
Contact David Conway at email@example.com
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