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Public hearing on crumbling water infrastructure project held

By Sue Sitter - | Feb 6, 2021

Sue Sitter/PCT Engineer Jim Olson of AE2S points to a section of water infrastructure targeted for work on a city map.

Representatives from Grand Forks engineering firm AE2S presented information on a project to replace crumbling infrastructure at a public hearing at city hall the evening of Feb. 1.

A few Rugby citizens attended the hearing held in council chambers along with city council representatives and Rugby public works employees.

Jim Olson, an engineer with AE2S, showed a map outlining a section of the city targeted for work.

“Back on August 18, 2020, the city contacted me and we started talking to public works in the committee meetings about the deteriorating infrastructure on 2 1/2 Avenue, specifically,” Olson explained.

“At 2 1/2 Avenue and Sixth Street, there was a lot of manhole crumbling, a pipe that was separating, leaks to water mains; the storm sewer was cracking and deteriorating as well and heaving the streets up,” Olson added.

Olson introduced engineer Jason Strand, who was brought in to help with the project.

Describing work done to find the source of problems in the water and sewer infrastructure, Olson said, “The city of Rugby contracted with Kemper Construction to do televising and we televised (the sewer and water system) from all of 2 1/2 Avenue from 3rd Street all the way to 2 1/2 Avenue and Sixth Street.”

“We found cracked sewer mains, (dips) in sewer mains, holes in sewer mains, collapsing sewer mains, debris in sewer mains and collapsing sanitary manholes as well due to the fact most of them are constructed 1940s brick style,” Olson said. “So, there are a lot of problems going on out there.”

“We moved on to start looking at each particular infrastructure, water sewer and storm. We started measuring out what we would do after we got the council’s approval to do the conditions assessment and we got approval to move forward with the water/sewer main and storm sewer replacement.”

Olson said work recommended will include replacing 5,639 linear feet of cast iron pipe on the water main and 7,294 feet of sewer system “ranging in sizes from eight to 16-inch pipe – that’s 19 sanitary manholes, which are either concrete or brick construction.”

Olson said most of the system and materials used date to the 1940s and 1950s.

“The sewer mains are mainly clay tiles. Clay tiles are 1940s, 1950s pipe (materials). It seemed to be the pipe to use back in the day,” he said.

Olson described the storm water system as “3,379 linear feet of RCP – reinforced concrete cylinder pipe. There are 16 storm manholes and 27 storm sewer inlets ranging from 12 inch to 48 inch.”

“They’ve all reached the end of their life design and they all warrant replacement,” he added.

Because the sanitary flow and water system runs under N.D. Highway 3 to lagoons on the west side of town, Olson said his firm would coordinate part of the project with a plan by the state to upgrade a section of the highway in the summer of 2021. One manhole affected by the highway project would be pulled out during the road work.

“They’re unsure when this (highway) project will get kicked off,” Olson said of the North Dakota Department of Transportation.

“We’re just going to move ahead with ours,” Olson said.

Olson said he hoped to solicit bids for the water infrastructure project in March. “We hope to get competitive bids,” he added.

“We plan on breaking ground in May of (2021),” Olson said. “Completion (for the project) will be May of (2022).”

Olson said the project could save the city money if paving were delayed until the spring of 2022.

“We’re going from gutter to gutter and once all that pipe’s in the ground, it’s good to let it settle for a year,” Olson added.

The project would also include curb and gutter replacement for the area affected.

“The flip side is it’s going to be a mess and you’re going to get complaints from the homeowners,” Olson cautioned.

Olson pegged the cost for the project at approximately $6.8 million.

AE2S has applied for a United States Department of Agriculture Rural Assistance grant, seeking 45 percent of the cost, which Olson said would be approximately $3 million.

Olson said he was not sure how much of the requested grant would be awarded.

“That dollar amount equates to eight to 16 dollars per water meter per month depending on the final grant amount,” Olson said of potential costs to ratepayers in the city. “Everything hinges on that.”

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