Monday, August 13, 2012

blitzkrieg updates: a tale of one city... and two really ticked off homeowners

June 19th

now that we had a working sewer system in place we could technically use our toilets...albeit third world country style...crouched over a hole in the floor with a bucket of water to "flush" everything away.  what we needed was WATER!  and if you thought the sewer was a problem wait until you hear about the water!  i did a little explaining here in this post about the city never putting a water main down our street.

we have known about this problem since the day we applied for our permit back in October...and since October we have been conversing with the city in order to come up with a solution to our lack of water.  what we found ironic was the fact that during our permitting process we paid over 15,000.00 in fees many of which were water plant investment fees and the like and to be told we didn't have water down our street...well lets just say we weren't thrilled.

here is a little play to give you the gist of what was going on.  please excuse my ghetto drawings but they will assist you in understanding.

the set  for act one- a lonely street with no water main to speak of


US-  we have no water but couldn't we drill a well... yeah we must be close to the water table because the river is right there... it probably won't even be that expensive and then free water for life...yay!

CITY- no you can't drill a well within the city limits

US- but you didn't provide adequate service for city water 

CITY- yeah but its the rule so anyway.... you'll have to put in a water main down your street

US- okay how much does that cost

CITY- umm about $400.00 a foot

US- wow thats a lot

CITY- oh but if you have neighbors down the line that tap into it in the future you would get some money back

US- but we own the next (and only) building lot, but you, the city, own further up and we know you want to put in bathrooms so maybe some day you will reimburse us some of the money

CITY- uhhhh yeah no we wouldn't do that only private citizens, we are the government we would never do that

US- so great well we can get over where would we have to tap into, it looks like there is a short little stub out water line going into our street

we hold out hope that there is a water main stub out in our street...but the city remains unsure

CITY- we don't really know, we don't actually know what is going on under our own municipal streets

US- great, okay we are going to ignore this problem for a month or two, but in the mean time, City, could you do some research into what is actually happening in our area so that when the time comes we can all make an informed decision.

CITY- sure

two months pass


US- the city still hasn't done any exploratory digging or come up with any answers, and why is it that we are going to have to pay something like $25,000.00 just to connect to city water utilities?  maybe we should write a letter to city council expressing our concern.  they are after all, the people we as a town have elected to keep the government (the dog) on a leash.  certainly they would see that this is unreasonable.

we write a very passionate yet fact filled letter to the city council members...weeks go  response.. we finally call the former mayor (we have a rotating mayorship here in durango)  

here they are team america...and by that i mean they can't get much  done

CITY COUNCIL- it sounds like it is what it is.... (implied) what do we care, we all have our own homes already and why should be feel sorry for you, you have two of the nicest building lots available in town and the only two on the river.

US- okay so that didn't work, what are we going to do....i guess we can propose a cost sharing measure to the director of parks and recreation...they want bathrooms at the end of our street, we need water, we could share the cost.

Director of Parks & Rec- oh that sounds like a great idea guys I will proposed it to Public Works and see if its feasible.

Director of Parks & Rec to Public Works- i proposed this idea to those folks on third ave. and they declined, i guess they don't want to share the cost of putting a water main down the street.

weeks go by....

US- huh... we haven't heard anything in weeks lets see whats up....hey city whats up

CITY- Parks and Rec said you didn't want to share cost, besides its not in our plan or budget anyway, oh and we still don't know what is going on under the road.

US- great, what are we supposed to do

CITY- maybe you should hire a private engineering consultant

US- you want us to spend MORE money...this is already potentially costing us upwards of 30,000.00 just to bring water to our house. water which you will then charge us for. how can you not KNOW what is going on here

CITY- yeah well...

US- how about we go through the city easement in front of our mom's house and then in front of our house and the even over to the empty lot.  we won't have to dig up as much street which is costly and we can do most of it ourselves.

CITY- whatever, we don't really care that much, but sounds okay

US- so where are we supposed to tap into

CITY- well maybe here, or maybe over here, or possibly even here

US- will you look into it and find out

CITY- sure 

US- great

weeks go by and no exploration or updates


US- what the HECK is going on

CITY- oh, oh right we will get right on it

the city comes out and digs a small hole in our street where a potential stubbed out water main is located.  nothing is found in this location, they do make a bunch of pretty spray paint marks all over the street and yard of björn's mom's house (little red house)

CITY- umm the water line we thought was there, and that is clearly marked on the GIS map, is not there, you will have to go into 32nd street.

no water line in the location we had hopped.  looks like its into 32nd street for us
US- 32nd street that is like the 5th busiest street in Durango!

CITY- no its the 3rd, and we call it Malfunction Junction for a reason...good luck!

US- we can't hire someone to do this they will charge a fortune, we can do it ourselves I know we can!!

CITY- whatever, just get an excavator permit and a traffic control plan together.

US- okay

we get our excavator permit plus the bond for the city...its doesn't cost much and we already have the excavator from the sewer fiasco..... we also hire Traffic Alert to come up with a Traffic Control plan on the third busiest road in Durango.  then we get down to business.....

CITY- we have marked exactly where you need to cut in order to tap into the water main running down 32nd street.  everything is all marked and ready to go

US- great, maybe you aren't so bad after all

the plan on cutting day- we only have to cut through about 20 feet of road, so not to much in asphalt patching charges and we won't have to close the road for too long!

we begin to cut across the street...


traffic control sets up shop

just some of the cones set up to direct traffic,
 along with 4 flaggers and a supervisor = big bucks


we finish the trench in the easement and begin the  street cuts

working in the easement

jack bear starts making the cuts through the street

björn supervises in the street- following the marking the city gave us
9 am-

we are ready to begin excavating the street cut, all is going smoothly

matt mans the excavator
starting to tear up the street

all of the excavated material has to be hauled off in a dump truck

i was a great road crew worker- these shovels and rakes don't stand
on their own you know
11 am-

the first dump truck load is gone and we haven't found the water main where it is supposed to be
the city locator comes out to try to relocate the water main


the locator informs us that we have to make another cut extending about 12 feet to the left of the original cut location....all they have to say for themselves is ooops

more cutting is required
1:00 pm- 

we finally find the water main but the pipe looks funny in this location, the city then informs us that this is a connection and therefore we cannot connect to this location- cut 4 more feet to the left

2:00 pm- 

more cutting and digging, more hauling away of material, more time for the flaggers, MORE MONEY
we find the water main again 4 feet to the left of the second cut, again things don't look good
the city informs us that this looks like a patch in the pipe, and you can't attach to a patch, cut four more feet to the left and down of this third cut

this is when björn just about loses it

holy trench batman! orion and matt look on at the madness
what are we supposed to do?!

the city public works guys can tell he is losing it so they bring in the big guns- the vac truck

4:00 pm- 

the vac truck arrives and begins pumping out all the road base, rocks and dirt from our fourth asphalt cut

the vac truck
4:30 pm- the water main is once again found and the pipe looks solid, the city guys can make their taps- FINALY

we aren't allowed to make the taps but we did hire a professional plumber to make the connections on the taps through the copper pipe and to the easement

tapping into the water main

water tap connection
hard to see but these are the copper pipes running through our street cut
5:00 pm-

the taps are done and the copper is run the city guys go home but our day isn't over yet
we call to order the flofill to fill in the giant hole

we are also responsible for clean up of the street
5:30 pm-

the flofill arrives and we fill the hole.  we opted to use this more expensive material to fill in the trench because it is a lot more stable than just sand and dirt.  because the city holds us responsible for the road patch we decided it was worth the additional cost to ensure that the patch would be good

the flofill arrives from Sandco

directing the flofill, björn's shoes were toast after this day
6:30 pm-

we call it a day, the traffic control packs up and heads home.  we put plates on the still un-paved hole.  we will have to asphalt patch this area in two days to allow enough time for the flofill to set up.

covered from head to toe in mud and flofill and sweat but we did it the water lines are in!

all in all we ended up making four cuts in the street, hauling off two dump truck loads of debris, having traffic control for 11 hours including some over time pay, three of our guys working a 11 + hour day, three plumbers that we hired to do the connections in the road and at the curb stops

plus is was about 100 + degrees but we GOT IT DONE and while I am estimating the whole day cost us over $10,000.00 with all of the glitches (almost none which were our fault I might add) a contractor would have charged us well over $30,000.00. 

It was also ironic that the shape that we ended up with was reminicent of a giant question mark, which is very appropriate considering the CITY had no clue what was going on in this lovely little intersection forever known at Malfunction Junction!

the final results but we have our water lines

Epilouge- Two Days Later

After allowing the flofill to set up, and enduring the sounds of people speeding over the giant metal plates in the street, I swear don't people slow down for those things, we were able to patch the asphalt

you can kind of see the asphalt patching going on behind the excavator
we hired a company to do this, so once again the traffic control people were back for half a day while they patched.

the asphalt patch is pretty big due to the city's inability to know where their
utilities are...and yes asphalt is charged by the square foot

me walking the patch, you can kinds of make out the question mark shape

björn and i learned a great lesson working on this project.  well maybe we learned a few things, one is that we kind of hate the city government.  in the end the public works guys did help us out with the vac truck and staying late and all that, but really all the problems stemmed from the lack of knowledge on the part of the city.  had we known where to connect to the water main we could have saved at least $4000.00 im convinced.  between the added time for labor, the added material in flofill and asphalt and the added stress...ugh!  we don't hate the individual who work for the city they were great and i think they really felt for us, they were also really impressed that we did it, never having done anything like this before.

the second lesson is one we had learned before but this really brought it home.  there is no reason to be afraid of anything, especially in construction.  its not magic and anyone can figure it out!  that whole grab life by the horns saying...well thats what we did.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...