The combined sewer overflow project is one day behind schedule for the reopening of Eighth and Commercial streets in downtown Astoria.

Crews poured concrete in the site Tuesday and the utility lines have been placed, in preparation of reopening April 23 – delayed by the discovery of historic trolley tracks under the asphalt.

The intersection is just one of many steps in the project that will take place throughout the construction season, eventually closing blocks of Eighth Street in sections up to Niagara Avenue.

Work will also take place at various spots from Eighth to 12th streets.

“Presently the project is one day behind schedule. They had challenges with of course railroad tracks but they have been performing very well,” said Public Works Director Ken Cook at Monday’s City Council meeting. “There has been a lot of other materials under the ground, unexpected concrete.”

The council approved a couple of CSO project-related items at the meeting, although one engineering services contract ammendment didn’t sit well with all members.

The city was asked to approve an ammendment with the design engineering services contract with Gibbs and Olson, the firm designing the CSO project, after the company “incurred some additional expenses in completing geotechnical investigation as part of the project,” City Manager Paul Benoit said.

The added expenses total $3,763.

But Councilman Drew Herzig and Mayor Willis Van Dusen said they both took issue with the added expenses, particulary since the company had done the original proposal themselves.

Herzig voted against approval; Van Dusen voted for it, along with council members Arline LaMear, Karen Mellin and Russ Warr.

“In our notes, it says the geotechnical sub-consultant Shannon and Wilson ... did work at the Sunset Empire Transit Center in 2002 and assumed similar conditions would exist on Ninth Street directly adjacent to the Transit Center,” Herzig said. “They made an assumption and it was wrong and they want us to pay for that. I have a problem with that.”

Benoit explained they assumed subsurface conditions “because nobody knows what’s under there, that’s why they look. And they’ve done a lot of work in Astoria and in the area, so I think it was a reasonable assumption,” he said. To bring additional equipment in for a more accurate reading of the conditions, Benoit added, the city would have likely had to pay the $3,763 amount anyway.

“Isn’t that their job?” Herzig asked. “They were hired to do this and now they’re saying ‘Whoops, we made a wrong guess and now somebody else should pay for our mistake.’... We can’t make any assumptions about what’s under the asphalt in Astoria.”

Van Dusen said he agreed with Herzig but still planned to vote in favor.

“I think it’s important that it’s noted in the minutes, as he did,” Van Dusen said. “I think it’s a legitimate thing to bring up so thank you for doing that. ... But there is a danger I would like to express, Commissioner Herzig, if we’re too tough on this type of a problem, the next time there is a bid for any subsurface work in the city of Astoria, it’s likely that they could say, ‘We don’t know what we’re going to find, we better put the bid way up there to cover anything.”

Van Dusen added the city got a very favorable bid on the current CSO project.

It is expected to cost $5.7 million.

“I think it’s amazing that whenever you dig in Astoria, you come up with things you don’t expect,” LaMear said. “I think this is a reasonable request from them.”

The council also approved a contract for specialty materials and testing services as part of the project, a requirement. Carlson Testing had a superior proposal, Benoit said, and staff recommended approval. That contract was approved unanimously for $58,488, not to be exceeded.


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