Weather, soil contamination stops work

COLUMBIA CITY — The Columbia City Board of Works and Safety approved on Friday a work shutdown by Bowen Engineering Corporation on the city’s Equal-ization Basin and Interceptor Sewer Project which was originally slated to be completed May 1.The shutdown is primarily due to frigid temperatures.But the recent discovery of contaminated soil at one of the locations and the subsequent delays caused by Indiana Department of Environmental Management intervention also plays a factor.A letter was presented to the board by Columbia City’s Outside Operations Manager Jeff Walker. The letter was confirming Bowen’s intent to shut down operations for two weeks.The letter was drafted by Jason Bagwell of Burgess & Niple, the consulting firm overseeing Bowen’s project on the city’s behalf.The delays in construction will be done in two-week increments, according to Bagwell. If weather conditions improve, the boring operation under the railroad tracks on Line Street may still be delayed, according to Walker.“I’m pretty confident it’s not going to be resolved before the end of the month,” Walker said.Crews installing sewer lines on South Line Street made a disturbing discovery several weeks ago while trying a technique known as Jack and Bore to run lines under the railroad.That discovery, soil contaminated with oil, led to the immediate shutdown of that part of the project.Bowen officials said the city would not incur any costs related to the shutdown or subsequent restart of operations.However, one cost will not be absorbed by the contractor.The rental fee of anywhere from $7,600 to $8,000 per month for equipment used in the decontamination process will remain the responsibility of the “owner,” although city officials say the land is in county jurisdiction.Walker told the board it would be unwise to return the equipment, which is said to be hard to find, and then try to secure the equipment later when operations commence.“We realize that the filtering equipment in use at the Railroad Bore Pit Dewatering location will continue at a cost as it needs to remain onsite,” said Bagwell in the letter.The plan also calls for Bowen to give the city 72 hours notice before resuming work.The property containing the contaminated soil is the site of the county’s fueling station. Walker reported last month the contamination, believed to be lubricating oil, is probably pre-existing and was contaminated before the county owned the property.Regardless of the cause, the city and county must now work in tandem with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to dispose of the contaminated soil.