VALPARAISO | The third time was not the charm when it came to designing a replacement stormwater culvert at the Franklin House, so the city's Utilities Board is expected to start over.
The board will be asked Tuesday to approve a contract with DLZ for $56,000 to design a culvert to replace one that goes under the Rail America tracks from the Franklin House parking lot. The contract calls for the design to be done in time to install the new culvert this year, but Deputy City Engineer Adam McAlpine said it was supposed to be done already.
The city hired R. W, Armstrong in May of 2011 for $44,078 to design the new culvert. The existing culvert is made of brick and connects to a corrugated steel pipe. The culvert developed a leak in November 2010, possibly at the connection point, that caused a sinkhole on the south side of the tracks.
"This culvert drains a large upstream area along Campbell Street, so the integrity of this storm sewer pipe is a high priority," McAlpine said in a letter to the board.
Over an 18-month period, Armstrong came up with three different designs for the new culvert, but each was ruled out after borings showed a layer of peat and the presence of a high water table in the area.
After the third try, Armstrong came back to the city for additional money, but McAlpine said the city decided to start over and seek new proposals.
Armstrong bid on the work along with DLZ and GAI, and DLZ's bid was the lowest. McAlpine said it also was felt a new company might bring a fresh perspective to the project. The hope is they will find a new crossing location that is feasible. One possibility is an existing sanitary sewer line under the tracks from Campbell.
McAlpine said the terrain to the west of the existing site also might work because it is not as steep but, with the soil conditions, he said it's surprising the tracks haven't sunk.
"It worked years ago for the culvert to be there, but not now," he said. "On the north side of the tracks we are tied to that spot because that's where everything drains to."
Funding for all the design work is from stormwater fees.