VALPARAISO | Just call the rains on Wednesday and Thursday a test run of the new Chautauqua Park storm sewer system.
Deputy city Engineer Adam McAlpine said the city didn't receive any calls following the week's first real rain in months. The rain came after all the underground work and the detention basin for the first phase of the Chautauqua Park storm sewer separation project was completed.
"We would like people to call us with information, good or bad, so we will be sure it is doing what we expected," McAlpine said of the west side area that has been plagued with sewer backups and street flooding for decades.
McAlpine said all that remains is some curb and paving work, which should be completed within a month., ending the project two months ahead of schedule. It came in slightly higher than the original contract amount because of changes needed during construction, but the final tally still is expected to be lower than the second best bid and well below the engineer's estimate.
"The residents were very understanding of the work going on, and there were minimal complaints," he said. "Everywhere there was an inlet on Bond, Grove and Ridgeland avenues we separated it and will redirect the flow so the pipes can keep up with the wastewater."
Completion means the city can concentrate more on getting ready for the second phase of the project, which will involve the southern portion of the neighborhood bounded by Campbell Street, Lincolnway, Yellowstone Road and the Canadian National tracks.
"We need to take a look at the drawings for phase two to see what minor changes we might want to make based on the things we learned on phase one. We still need to acquire the land on the former Valparaiso Tech site for another detention pond. We still have no agreement on the price."
The city has begun the legal work for condemnation proceedings to obtain that land, but it has the easement for the storm sewer to be installed on the Memorial Elementary School property. McAlpine said it will run through the playground but will be in the grass area and not dig up the playground equipment.
The city plans to begin the bidding process in February or March but won't start construction until after school lets out. McAlpine said the project should be completed during the summer break. The estimate for the second phase is $1.67 million.
The second phase will be paid with funds left from the bond issue used to finance the first phase and with income from the storm sewer fees. McAlpine hopes it goes as well as the first phase.
"There are always unknowns in doing utility work, and digging alongside aged mains was challenging at the time, but the project went as planned," he said.
And appears to have passed its first rain test.