Patience for NedPeds runs low

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John Scarffe
Nederland

Second Street residents and members of the Nederland Board of Trustees expressed aggravation with the NedPeds project during the Board’s regular meeting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, September 20, at the Nederland Community Center. For the second meeting in a row, Todd Ficken and Alex Knettel with F&D International, which oversees the NedPeds project, gave the Board an update.

The NedPeds project involves constructing a new Nederland pathway from the RTD lot to the Post Office, while improving Town storm water drainage along the way. In addition to the verbal update, Ficken wrote a memo included in the Board’s information packet

Ficken told the Board he wanted to revisit how we got where we are today. If everybody remembers, one year ago F&D was retained to manage the project. “Bids came back $1 million over your budget, so we came up with some ideas.”

The company tried to eliminate some of the project scope without losing the essence of sustainability, Ficken said. The goal was to reduce material costs to bring the project in line with the dollars the town had from a grant.

F&D eliminated pavers on Second Street and some pathways. It saved a lot of dollars. “As you drive down Highway 72 today, you’re seeing almost a finished product,” Ficken said.

The asphalt was scheduled to be put down on Friday. The crusher fines on the trails is an approved material for the U.S. Forest Service trail system, Ficken said. According to the National Trails Training Partnership, Crusher fines are small particles of crushed rock. Generally, they are the leftovers from rock crushing operations, but at times the rock can be ground especially to make the crusher fines.

Town Administrator Alisha Reis said that these materials were then presented to the Board and had to have them approved by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). “We had one respondent to an overpriced version. So much has changed with the composition of the Board and people who live along the project.”

Some work to replace existing islands around the roundabout was cut out, Ficken said. The project does include an American Disabilities Act (ADA) accessible ramp.

“There will be some maintenance issues on Highway 72,” Ficken said. “The only thing we took out was the pavers and put in fine crushers. It’s pretty much in the essence of the original drawing. Gravel will provide the same sustainability.

“You’re going to need to refresh the gravel. There will be some maintenance work. Every other year you have to put out some new crusher fine. We tried to find a way to get the project done for $1 million.”

In his memo to the Board, Ficken wrote: “We continue to have our weekly construction meetings with the Contractor, and the main driving force at these meetings is the need to maintain a schedule and remain sharply focused on completing the project on time. As noted in our last update, since the Contractor assigned a seasoned superintendent to the project, the work pace has really picked up.

“Based on monitored progress, we are anticipating the Contractor will be at substantial completion the end of September. This means that we will still have a punch list to generate in addition to the completion of the lower part of 2nd Street as it will have a temporary cap installed, but from a practical point-of-view, the project will be substantially completed.”

Ficken told the Board that the western side of Second Street, as well as the Snyder and Second Street intersection is really looking good, but it was very complex because it involved Xcel Energy and gas lines that were not in the location the company had in its maps, Ficken said. “It was re-engineered based on actual conditions. The crew was great, patient. It got all reconfigured.”

The project encountered gas line issues around the whole town, Ficken said. “We got some major issues taken care of. You have a good gas system in there.”

The contractor is working on the trail and culvert on South Beaver Creek, Ficken said. They are going to pave the whole intersection with regular asphalt. “You will have a nice, paved intersection soon. It will improve storm water issues, but will not eliminate them.

On Second Street, they have been working with all homeowners to confirm the location of their driveways. Ficken said they added another culvert among the culverts that cross under Second Street from South Beaver.

On East Street, a concrete pad with a dome is being placed where it crosses the street. The boulder wall is a change they introduced to widen the area, and they used boulders to create a larger area.

The original design called for pavers, Ficken said. A paver is not porous, but it’s the gap between the pavers that is porous. They proposed using porous asphalt instead. It was something that increased infiltration of the water instead of it rushing all the way down to the reservoir.

Trying to get the project into the budget, they added 24 inches of big rock and six inches of sand to create this big reservoir under the street, instead of a pipe, to create enough capacity so that normal storm events would fill the rocks and re-infiltrate the water back into the ground. Then they connected a pipe from the chamber.

“If you have a 100- or 500-year event, you are going to overwhelm this. There is a lot more storm water work the Town is going to have to look at,” Ficken said, said, adding that work is necessary up the watershed to make additional improvement.

The contractor couldn’t find a company to provide porous asphalt this season, Ficken said. Instead of asphalt, they are going to put down a road base surface with magnesium chloride, and it will harden like rock. Then they will put down the porous asphalt next spring, Ficken said.

Trustee Dallas Masters referred to the revised plan. “Did the public see the revised plan? At my first meeting as a Trustee there was a question as to whether the pathway would be on the north side or south side, and no one could answer that question.”

Reis said the revised plan came to the Board in summer 2015, and it was a public meeting at that time. Most of the changes to the project were materials, not effecting scope. “We were always trying to keep in mind that the purpose of this project was to improve transportation between RTD and the Post Office.

“This area was the hardest hit during the flood, so we were trying to manage storm water as well,” Reis said. There were no portions or segments eliminated.

Masters said that the original project went out to bid. “We went back to the design. Why was it moved from north to south?”

Ficken said that an older set of drawings got printed out at a recent block meeting. “It was my mistake. Drawings we used were the drawings I understood were the final drawings. We carved a million dollars off.”

Reis explained that a design advisory team was set up with people along the route. The Board approved the final drawing. “By the time we were going to bid it had been a very long process. A four-year design process is ridiculous.

“The process we’re using now with better outreach, email, etc., we’ll keep on using in the future. The Nederland Downtown Development Authority chairman has been outstanding with outreach. We recognize that having construction outside your house for a month is a drag, and we appreciate everyone’s patience.”

Ficken said that the ADA tells you it must be accessible, but it doesn’t tell you how to make it accessible. There are standards — a guideline by the U.S. Forest Service called Accessible Trails.

Masters asked, “What is under the gravel?” Ficken replied that a pipe runs all along Highway 72 to the museum, where the steam shovel is, and it makes an immediate turn back to the north and into Beaver Creek. That has not changed from original design.

Masters asked, “How do we maintain this gravel? I think this is a potential nightmare for Public Works.” Ficken said, “I anticipate it will get clogged. You’ll have to take it down to the base and spread it out.”

Masters said, “I predict that will never happen in this town.” Reis pointed out that it was approved by the previous Board.

Ficken said: “Our intent was to take the design the previous Board approved and work with it. That’s why all the gas lines had to be moved, because we couldn’t get the storm water pipe in.”

Reis added that the bad area of Second Street has been just past the hair shop. The Town is working with property owners on Beaver Creek to remove debris from there.

Masters asked: “Who should make the decision about moving to Option B or stopping the project, or redesigning? Who makes this decision?”

Reis said: “We are contracted to fulfill these duties — to finally complete the work, for the love of God. We will have to come in and replace the cap in the spring. At this point, there’s no redesigning. That has gone to contract. We’re way down the road.”

Ficken said they were supplying a surveyor, but the contractor was to direct the surveying. Masters said that was in the contract, and keeping people safe was in the contract. “I read the contract tonight. I think we should go after the contractor for everything that was a breach of contract and find out whatever damages we can and go after them.”

Reis said that you have to give notice to cure, and you have to give the contractor a period of time to cure what they’re doing wrong. This would have to go to court and wait for a year.

“If I had an opportunity to hire anyone else, I would have, but we had one bid. At this point, the best thing is to complete the project.”

Trustee Stephanie Miller asked what flood event it was designed for, and Ficken said a 25-year event. Miller said: “At the last Board meeting we heard we were doing the asphalt cap. Now we’re seeing a new design. Has the community seen that?”

Ficken said, “If you want this reengineered, we’ll stop this and reengineer it.” Miller said, “If I had been waiting for a long time for a paved street, I would be upset about it.”

Mayor Pro-Tem Charles Wood said: “We’re at a point with a very long and painful project. The opportunity is to finish. We will lose the funding. We ended up with a design that couldn’t get built. It was a matter of losing the funding. Right now we need to finish.”

Trustee Julie Gustafson asked if they are collecting information on this, so when it’s a success and have set a new bar, they will have a record of it.

Ficken said, “When the project is a smashing success, I’d love to go to Colorado Municipal League and others and brag about this project.”

Mayor Kristopher Larsen asked about the ribbon curb. “Are we going to have problems with people parking on it?” Reis said that we’ll have to do signage, and maybe sometimes rebuild.

Larsen asked what if the worst-case scenario happens, and it deteriorates. Ficken replied, “Just pave it. If it’s a complete failure, just pave it over. What you’re doing takes a lot of courage. It may not work.”

Wood said that, in this worst-case scenario, if we pave it, what will happen to the drainage underneath? Will it still drain out under the street? Ficken said that it will drain out.

Masters said, “We should use the problem of not getting porous asphalt to tell the contractor that we want curb and gutter.” Ficken replied that it would be a significant redesign, and it would cost the town from a design and contractor perspective.

Public Works Director Chris Pelletier said he went to a class about porous asphalt, and the snow is supposed to melt on it. “There are maintenance challenges to it. Going back right now doesn’t make sense.”

During public comment, Sally Grahn, a resident at 187 E. Second Street, said they didn’t ask for a paved road, but they were brought to a meeting about it, and she was excited. “I think we’re almost done.”

She also spoke for a neighbor who had to reschedule a re-roofing project, though. “When do you expect we can drive on this road?”

Ficken said, “I’m anticipating October 1 it’s drivable.”

Paula Farrell, owner of the Art House on Second Street, said she has been closed now for six weeks because of construction. “It has been a huge disappointment. I’ve had no business because of the construction.

“I really do hope this town has learned to inform the community along every step of the process, even the Board. Decisions were being made the Board did not know about it.

“I have no confidence that I’m not going to get flooded. Permeable asphalt has not been put in, and there are no gutters. I opened this business to help the community and other artists, and I hope the decisions you’ve made don’t ruin this opportunity.”

Karina Luscher, former member of the Nederland Downtown Development Authority for 2-1/2 years, said: “It’s affected a lot of people obviously in a pretty negative way. I would like to ask that in the future the Board of Trustees, whether it’s you or other people, be a little more mindful in the decision-making process.

“It’s very easy to get on a high horse and think you know all the answers. Stop making decisions that take years to recover from. This kind of stuff shouldn’t be happening. I’m tired of the shenanigans that go on. We deserve better than what we’ve been given.”

The Board met on Tuesday, October 4. The next meeting of the Nederland Board of Trustees will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday, October 18, at the Nederland Community Center.