City will hold off paving parts of Community Park streets until next spring to prevent damage

The city of Watertown will move forward with paving Street A in the new Community Park site this fall, but will hold off on paving much of Street B until the spring.

That decision was made by the city council during its Sept. 25 meeting in an effort to avoid the risk associated with constructing the paved portions and curb and gutter before the underlying soils have had a chance to settle. The contractor was originally required to complete the concrete curb and gutter and bituminous pavement layers by Oct. 19.

However, a new sanitary sewer system was recently completed 30 to 35 feet beneath the surface of Street B, which could pose problems if the curbs and pavement were to be completed this fall. Because of the clay soils and minimal precipitation so far this year, there is a risk of greater than normal settlement in the soil above the sewer. The contractor has thus far met all density requirements designed to protect against that type of settlement, but even taking that into consideration, the soil type and environmental conditions are expected to cause additional settling of the soil.

The projected worst case scenario is that the soil would settle as much as 3 to 5 percent of the trench depth over the winter, which in this case would be 1 to 1.5 feet. The city does not anticipate the soil will settle that much, but the council opted to use caution in deciding to wait until spring to finish most portions of Street B, the north-south street that connects to Highway 25. Street A — the east-west street that connects to Paul Avenue and that will have curb and pavement work completed this fall — does not have a sanitary sewer system underneath.

In deciding to wait until spring to move forward with much of Street B, the council was following the recommendation of the contractor, as well as from Andrew Budde of Bolton and Menk, the city’s engineer. Budde told the council that if damage to the curb or pavement occurred from soil settlement over the winter, it would be difficult to have the contractor pay for the repairs since they have built everything to specification.

Because the amount of settlement is unknown at this point, it is impossible to know how much it would cost to repair any damage. However, it is estimated that it would cost about $10,000 to replace 100 lineal feet of roadway if it becomes damaged due to soil settlement.

Delaying the curb and pavement work until spring does carry some financial risk in that bituminous pavement costs are tied to oil prices. Should oil prices climb over the winter, the city will face higher costs than they might have this fall, but will avoid possible costly repairs in the spring.

Budde said the additional cost that would result from not paving either street until spring would likely not be more than $5,000. However, the city is minimizing that expense by paving Street A and part of Street B this fall, so that number can likely be cut in half, if not more. The plan is to pave Street B only from Highway 20 up to the Peace Lutheran Church entrance at this time.

In other business:
• The council approved a resolution to vacate the southeastern portion of Kieffer Street. The action was needed in order to set up the parcels for private development. The property at the south end of Lewis Avenue is expected to be the future site of senior housing facility.
• Appointed assistant fire chief Ned Schroeder to the same position for 2013. This is the first year leaders in the fire department are selected by a formal application and interview process, a switch designed to generate stability in the department. Schroeder, who has served on the fire department since 1987, was the only applicant, and was approved unanimously. He also served as chief from 2000 to 2006 and has been assistant chief since 2009.