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TC public-works board discusses road closings

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Members vote to reconsider bids for Pestalozzi drainage project

By Trista Lutgring

TELL CITY - "We are going to have, over the next 18-month period, many street closing requests along the way," Tell City Mayor Barbara Ewing said to members of the Tell City Public Works and Safety Board in reference to work that has begun for a combined-sewer overflow project.

One such request was before the board during their meeting April 19. D-Lite Excavation of Troy requested the closing of Washington Street from Seventh Street to Ninth Street until May 4. The company also asked to have small sections of Washington closed for short periods of time - three to four hours a day - to do raw cutting and potholing to investigate the depth of the ground and what is in it.

"We're going to have a year and a half of this," Tell City Waste Water Superintendent Bruce Badger said when Ewing asked if he had anything to add about the road closing.

Ewing agreed and said that everyone would have to "just get ready."

"I think I can speak on behalf of the board ... we would like to ask the patience of the community from a construction standpoint," Ewing said, adding that the project would benefit the community and make Tell City more environmentally safe.

Some concern was raised from board members about the fact that part of the road closing was next to the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2939, which is a voting area that will be used by city residents for the May 4 primary vote. Ewing did say, however, that Main Street parking and the VFW's side parking lot would still be accessible to voters and didn't seem concerned that Washington's closing would be a problem. She also informed the board that she would see if the entrance to Sunset Park would be blocked.

Another road closing request was received from Bowen Engineering Inc. in regard to the long-term control plan construction project. The request was for a closing of Schiller Street approximately 450 feet from Fifth Street to the west. All alleys and homeowners' driveways and Schiller Street on the west end to the south would remain open, however through traffic would not be permitted. The request stated the city-garage users would still have access on the south side of the site and that a temporary fence would be put up for safety concerns.

Both of the closings, which had been submitted on behalf of resident inspector Mike Burress, were approved by the board.

Discussing old business, board members heard from city attorney Jim Tyler about a recent review of the bid forms for a Pestalozzi drainage project. Bernardin Lochmueller and Associates of Evansville, the engineering firm working on the project, had reviewed the low bid from Quality Craft Construction in Dale and found that the company had not provided several documents that were required in the bid. The firm also investigated the company's past performance and found that "the company may not be capable of or inclined to finish the project in accordance with the plan and specifications." The firm had addressed a letter to Ewing stating that they could not recommend the company due to their findings.

Tyler said he also looked into Quality Craft's past projects and had received information about a contract the company held with the city of Newburgh on a force-main sewer project. The engineering firm on the project informed Tyler that Quality Craft had failed to submit certain drawings to the firm and failed to complete areas of the project in a timely manner. Due to these failings, the city of Newburgh terminated the contract with Quality Craft in early April and sent a letter to the company demanding damages of $147,000.

Tyler said it is very questionable now if the company would be able pay the claim and be financially stable enough to complete the Tell City project at the bid price. Because of this, he also recommended that the city not consider Quality Craft's bid.

Ewing suggested the board make a motion to not consider the company's bid based on the information and take other bids under advisement. Board members agreed and the motion passed.

In other business, the board heard from Lisa Noble concerning an accident that occurred near her home on the 700 block of 33rd Street March 24.

Noble briefly explained the accident, in which a driver had veered off the road and into Noble's backyard, damaging the property and wrapping a fence around their home. She and her father, Jerry Wooldridge, asked the board to review the possibility of placing a guard rail or some other type of barrier along the roadway in case a similar accident might occur again.

"It's a wonder (no one was injured), if you look at the pictures," Noble said. "He hit everything he possibly could in the backyard."

Tell City Police Chief Greg Hendershot and Councilman John Little had visited the site and both agreed with Noble. Hendershot said he could only remember two previous accidents where vehicles had gone over the embankment. Little spoke to other residents in the area and one had informed him of two similar accidents where vehicles had driven over the embankment and between houses.

"I'm kind of amazed there aren't more (accidents)," Hendershot said.

Little agreed and said he "would like to get one of the engineering firms that designed that road or Bernardin Lochmueller to maybe come in and make some type of recommendation."

All board members agreed and passed a motion to contact Bernardin Lochmueller to look at the site and offer the city recommendations.

A special meeting of the board will begin at 4 p.m. today to open bids on a Pestalozzi Street lift-station project. The board could also vote to award bids on a drainage project. The meeting is open to the pubic and will be held in the upstairs council room at City Hall.