Ruth Street residents shares thoughts on street repairs

By Perry and Erika Joos - Guest columnists

My husband and I watched daily the repair/replace project on Ruth Street unfold since the start date. My husband had many good interactions with Sidney city employees and hired contractor employees throughout the process. During the project phase where the water supply line was replaced and the new curb/gutters were installed, we noticed that the drainage tile outlets were about 4- to 5-inches below the new concrete curb/street elevation. Before the construction project, Ruth Street residents agree that rain water drain tile outlets to the street were flush with the street elevation as designed for proper positive water flow from their properties.

My husband spoke with the contractors and city project personnel on-site (including Randy Magoto) to point out the problem and ask for resolution. His interactions with contractors included statements from them “that the problem was made known to the city” and they were told to “move forward with the project” despite the issue. At no point did the City inform residents that there was a problem and present us with possible resolutions.

After the concrete curb was installed, the problem was glaringly obvious to residents, contractor personnel, and city personnel. My husband’s understanding from contractor discussions was that a decision was made by the city to decline the contractor’s suggestion to install a common drain tile behind the new curb and to do so before the final concrete driveway aprons were poured. Instead, a PVC finish tile, with a connection joint, was installed to the homeowner’s original drainage tile, which had been cut by the contractor back at the sidewalk edge. This resulted in a 4-inch-drop over 7-feet yielding a 4.75 percent negative grade from the curb’s edge back to that joint connection. In plain English, this means that water now has to travel uphill through the PVC connector pipe to drain out to the street.

The city has also tried to confuse the issue by stating that many of the drainage tiles were plugged with mud. This issue is irrelevant to the change in final street/curb elevation problem created by the project and the issue would still exist if all tiles were free and clear of any debris. The mud observed packed into the opening of the exposed tiles where they were cut by construction activity was inadvertently pushed into the newly exposed opening by the heavy equipment digging during the construction phase.

In summary:

• Ruth Street residents believe that the engineering department failed to identify or ignored a basic final grading/elevation problem prior to start of the project; thereby installing new street and curb that is several inches above original elevation and therefore too high for existing drainage tiles.

• Was the new street/curb elevation installed according to city engineering planning? (contractor error)

• Did the city engineering study/planning include appropriate final elevation for existing lot drain tiles? (city error)

• None of the Sidney city correspondence to residents before the project began included any indication or potential for this drainage issue impacting every residence on Ruth Street. What does this fact indicate about the engineering planning for this project?

• The issue was brought to the city’s attention by Sturm Construction and Ruth Street residents during the project’s water main replacement digging phase, but the city chose to ignore the issue and possible proper and less costly resolution before the project continued.

• The city’s attempt to “fix” the problem with a PVC connector pipe is unacceptable (water does not run uphill; standing water in the connector pipes can freeze thereby blocking water flow and possible potential rupture of the tile from expansion pressure at ice formation.

• Since the issue was ignored in the beginning, the costs to remediate the drainage problem are now higher since the concrete aprons will have to be removed (and replaced again) as well as re-trenching work behind the curb to install a common drainage tile.

• Residents do not feel that we should have to pay for the city’s engineering errors and we would like to have an appropriate resolution that includes drainage and water flow from existing tile drainage that meets accepted engineering standards.

Of note — at the Aug. 13 City Council meeting, members voted to approve a resolution and residents will be receiving a letter with the forthcoming details. As we were not present, I cannot speak to the specifics at this time.

By Perry and Erika Joos

Guest columnists

Perry and Erika Joos are concerned residents who have lived on Ruth Street for five years.

Perry and Erika Joos are concerned residents who have lived on Ruth Street for five years.