The city had a sales tax TIF that was expiring at the end of the year. They had a drainage improvement project out for bid which they thought would use up those remaining funds. The bids for the drainage project came in lower than anticipated freeing up funds that would be lost when the TIF expired. The decision was made to use the remaining sales tax TIF dollars to build the sidewalk.
The city contacted Chastain to assist them in achieving their goal of completing the project prior to the expiration date of the funds. It was May 13th and no design work had started yet. Surveys, design, coordination with IDOT, contractor bidding, construction and final acceptance and payment for all the work had to take place in a span of six months.
Coordination meetings took place immediately. The schedule drove the decision making. All the stakeholders understood the schedule and worked well together to minimize delays. IDOT suggested the project be built by permit since no state or federal monies were involved. IDOT standards and ADA policies would be followed. The sidewalk would stay on public right-of-way. The city would acquire any temporary construction easements based on standardized widths. Aerial photographs provided through the city’s GIS system were used to begin developing the path the sidewalk would take to avoid utility poles, guy wires, traffic signal posts, fire hydrants, and other obstacles while the topographic surveys were underway.
We proactively responded to property and business owners concerns throughout design and construction which helped keep the project moving. This included the city’s willingness to accommodate minor modifications to the design during construction.
It soon became apparent the key to the project’s success was finding a solution to address several conflicts with existing storm water inlets draining runoff flowing from adjacent properties onto the narrow right of way behind the curb and gutter. IDOT owned the drainage system. The inlets could not be moved off of the right-of-way to intercept the water as this would require purchasing property in the name of the state. The schedule did not have enough time in it for the processes required to purchase property. The sidewalk and any public infrastructure would have to work together within the existing right-of-way.
To keep the project on schedule and avoid the complexities of acquiring additional right-of-way, we developed a structure allowing the sidewalk to bridge the inlet while maintaining the existing drainage paths and access to the existing inlets for maintenance and cleaning. The existing inlet would remain untouched and no modification to the storm sewer system was necessary. Access to the existing inlet would be provided through a large pedestrian safe grate that also served to span the gap. A curb was incorporated to protect the drop off on the upstream side. Water would enter the structure through a gap between the access grate and the original inlet grate. The sidewalk was pitched to drain toward the roadway keeping pedestrians separated from the water flowing onto the right-of-way from adjacent properties.
The bid documents included a completion date of November 30, 2013. The contractor completed work on the project on November 15th. The city’s goal was achieved.
Early coordination efforts allowed all the project stakeholders to understand the importance of the schedule and that allowed them to focus on solutions to the obstacles encountered along the way. The unique design we developed to accommodate existing drainage structures was just one of those solutions that helped make this project a success for the City of Tuscola.