Lessons learned in phase one will be applied to phase two.

Lessons learned in phase one will be applied to phase two.

That was the takeaway last week as Port St. Joe commissioners discussed ongoing work to replace some 20 miles of aged and rusting water distribution line.

The point of contention last week was a holdover, Commissioner Rex Buzzett’s frustration of the pace of patching work on driveways and roadways after pipe replacement. That has been on ongoing issue with phase one of the project, which is broken in three phases.

The first phase is aimed at replacing some eight miles of pipe, primarily in areas of Ward Ridge and the city proper. Thus far, city manager Jim Anderson said, roughly five miles, or roughly 60 percent, of the “pipe was in the ground.”

“We still have a lot of work to be done, but there is a lot of pipe in the ground,” Anderson said.

But Buzzett, expressing his unhappiness with IC Contractors on the pace of asphalt repair work, requested a workshop at which a representative of IC Contractors was present and proposed that the city withhold further payments to the contractor until the pace of patchwork picked up.

The cost of that patchwork was at the center of last week’s discussion.

Lee Hathaway with IC Contractors said that his company was performing within the parameters of the contract language and that no specific contract language mandated a timetable for the patchwork, only that it be completed by the completion of the project.

“We could have paved one time at the end of the project and been within the parameters of the contract,” Hathaway said.

Hathaway said that cost was a critical issue – that paving contractor C.W. Roberts would charge based on the number of jobs crews would be working on a certain date or a week. The fewer the projects, the more costly.

Therefore, Hathaway said, the contractor was waiting until patch projects build up in inventory to call in Roberts Contractors. The amount of rain early in the project was also a mitigating factor as far as pace, Hathaway added.

He said another contractor was not the solution.

(Roberts is) worth the money and time to wait on them,” Hathaway said.

The problems, as noted in earlier meetings by Buzzett, have been particularly prevalent along Garrison Avenue and areas of Bird Alley and Bellamy Circle, which had been on a list of projects for more than two months, were still not completed.

But Hathaway said that C.W. Roberts had been out in the city the week prior and completed 11 patch projects and would be completing a list of another 14 patch projects last week.

Hathaway said as long as the weather cooperated, the patches currently in need of completion should be finished by the first of this week.

Buzzett said as long as that work was completed, he would not offer his motion to stop payments to IC Contractors until the patchwork issue was resolved.

But he made clear he hoped commissioners would join him in tweaking the process for the next phase of the project.

“We are going to make some changes, you can count on that,” Buzzett said.

The first would be to follow the path suggested by Hathaway and bid out the patch projects separately or as part of the full scope of work for the replacement of water distribution lines.

Commissioners also discussed directional boring for the lines instead of cutting pavement. Commissioner Bill Kennedy said that the less the pavement is bothered, particularly at intersections, the more stable it remains.

Kennedy said the pros of directional boring would depend on the size of the line and the city’s knowledge of what infrastructure was already in the ground where work was being performed.

“As long as we know where our stuff is I would strongly suggest we consider boring on this next phase,” Buzzett said.

 As for the first phase, work continues along Seventh and Eighth Streets, Woodward Avenue south and McClellan south of Tenth Street.

The city received a positive on phase two of the project.

The State Revolving Fund notified city officials that it was eligible for $1.845 million, $1 million of the loan will be forgiven, in additional financing. Through phase two, the city will have tapped the State Revolving Fund for just over $4.3 million.

The city should know next month whether a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) will be forthcoming to address the water distribution lines in the neighborhood known as North Port St. Joe. The city scored high on the application and it is expected it will receive the grant.

That grant would lessen the scope of the second phase of the project.