Five-points roundabout dig unearths Valparaiso's past

2013-08-17T19:15:00Z 2013-08-17T21:30:30Z Five-points roundabout dig unearths Valparaiso's pastPhil Wieland, (219) 548-4352

VALPARAISO | Digging up the five-points intersection for the roundabout construction has been like a trip through the city's past. Only Indian burial mounds and maybe a dinosaur skeleton are lacking so far.

The project will enter the third and final phase when the west leg of Vale Park Road is closed, and, despite more surprises than might be expected on almost any project, everything is still on schedule for a Thanksgiving opening of the roundabout.

The first phase of the project on Roosevelt Road had to overcome bad soil beneath the road that wasn't discovered when borings were done  during preparation of the construction drawings. The project has been plagued by the discovery of a number of pipes that either were not in the records or were mislabeled.

"The first week on phase two on Vale Park east, the maps showed an abandoned storm sewer culvert," said Don McGinley, city project manager. "They cut through it and left it in the trench, and then we had a big rain and water poured through it. It was actually tied into Lake Point Gardens and ran through the Strack & Van Til property."

The trench had been left open or the problem could have been worse, he said. As it was, it took a couple of days to pump the water out. The next day they cut through a sanitary sewer line that wasn't supposed to be there and found it was connected to the plaza at the southeast corner of the intersection. An additional manhole had to be installed to correct that problem.

The digging revealed a log apparently placed over a swampy area to build up the ground to cross it in the old horse-and-buggy days. McGinley said the bark was stripped and it was flat on one side. The contractors also have found ample evidence of the old interurban trolley line.

Although they haven't found any rail, as they did on a project on Calumet Avenue south of Glendale Boulevard a couple of years ago, McGinley said they found the sort of gravel base used under rails and an occasional railroad spike on the east side of Calumet at the roundabout.

McGinley said Calumet was about 2.5 feet higher than when it was originally built. The excavation uncovered layers of concrete on top of asphalt on top of more concrete. All those layers had to be removed.

"It's not good practice to have a sandwich of pavements," he said.

They also uncovered the bottoms of utility poles, which were sawed off at ground level and just covered over when the road was widened. He said the project even had trouble with some newly relocated electric lines.

McGinley said the electric lines were installed as much as 14 feet underground through the intersection, but sloped up to as little as 2 feet near the terminals next to the roundabout. The shallower depths got in the way of some sewer lines and had to be moved again.

Stuart Summers, executive director of the city's Redevelopment Commission, which is funding the local share of the $2.27 million project, said $38,772 in additional costs have resulted from the changes made after the ground was opened. Federal funds will pay for about $22,212 of that.

McGinley said he thought the project was far enough north it wouldn't run into a lot of problems from old sewer lines, but that hasn't been the case. Maybe those Indian mounds and T. Rex bones will be found yet.


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