Greenway construction--Hoping for good luck with the weather

Two contractors work on their "stormwater control" bid.
Click to enlarge.

S and L Underground and Trucking was the low bidder for the Hillcrest-Upland sanitary sewer project on Madison's near west side. Construction is scheduled to begin Oct. 4.

Many of the residents surrounding this project are upset about losing the 65 trees this project plans to eliminate.  So it's ironic that the low bidder for this project was the one that caused the uproar over damage to trees on Spaight Street last year.

In addition, "erosion control" has always been one of the objectives for this plan, so some neighbors want to ensure adequate plans are in place to protect Lake Mendota from muddy runoff.

Concerns about S & L Underground and Trucking

David Newby, one of the residents bordering the project, recently wrote to City Engineering:

There are concerns here about the low-bid contractor for the Greenway project.

Given the history of this contractor's behavior, is there evidence that he can do this complicated and delicate job? Can he fulfill the detailed specifications of what is to be done here, within the constraints as laid out in the bid (e.g. width of the work path, treatment of trees that are to be saved which are now close to the work path, type of stone to be used in the storm water channel)? And can he do it at the price he bid?

Engineering obviously worked hard here to give us a good plan for the Greenway and its problems. Does this contractor have the flexibility, the temperament, and the attention to detail to give us what we were promised here, and what the very detailed plans specify?

What we fear, of course, is that "mistakes will be made" (as just happened with Jon Nelson's hedges) - and once made (for example, the killing of mature trees, filling the ravine with the wrong rock, failing to effectively stem the erosion), the "mistakes" will be irreversible.

Erosion control--a challenge at this site

The ravine drains a basin upstream that's about half a mile long. It's the sole exit for all that stormwater. The force of rushing water will be concentrated in a narrow ravine.

If there's a major storm during construction, erosion will be difficult to control. There would be damage to the project (for which the contractor is liable), as well as damage to our lakes.

Of the four bidders, S&L was the lowest when it came to the line item of "stormwater control."

S&L Underground & Trucking     $500
Speedway Sand & Gravel         $2,000
Joe Daniels Construction         $3,000
R.G. Huston & Co.                  $4,121

Note that Speedway, with all their bungling of erosion control at the Edgewood project, was the second lowest bidder on this item.

Given the difficulty of stormwater control for this project, we wonder--did S&L give stormwater control any serious consideration at all? The round numbers for three of the contractors suggest wild guesses.

This contractor bears watching

There are new construction rules that levy penalties against contractors that cause unnecessary tree death.  But these rules may be difficult to enforce, unless we can prove the contractor violated the rules. 

Here's what residents bordering the greenway can do to help protect their trees and the lake:
  • Identify the valuable trees in your back yard, just outside the contruction fence, that you want to protect. 
  • Let "Friends of the Greenway" know you want to actively protect these trees.
  • Familiarize yourself with the tree protecftion rules the contractor has to follow.  We have a summary.
  • Watch for infractions of the rules (or make your back yard available to other observers)
  • Take photos (and notes) of any work you think is a violation of the rules.  Send them to this blog's editor.
  • Take photos of erosion during and after heavy rain events.
S&L Underground and Trucking may wish they had left this difficult spot alone.

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