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Bullhook meeting addresses concerns

 

April 10, 2014

Eric Seidle

Jeremiah Theys, a project manager at Great West Engineering outlines a five month project to fix the deteriorating Havre sewer system. The project will cost an estimated $3.5 million although not all cost may be the burden of taxpayers as the city hopes to receive a grant from the Treasure State Endowment Program.

Engineers presented their report on the state of the Bullhook Channel Wednesday night, detailing the need for repairs on the system.

The meeting was held at the Havre City Hall courtroom.

Jeremiah Theys, the project manager for Great West Engineering, gave a presentation on how his firm completed the report and what the findings were. Great West was hired by the city of Havre to identify issues and concerns with the infrastructure of the channel.

Theys and his crew made a physical inspection of the entire series of tunnels that make up the drainage system. The findings showed that the hydraulics system and the tunnels were fully capable of handling the creek so there is no need for an upgrade of the system - just repairs.

"You're looking at full replacement for some of these pipes," Theys said.

Theys said the biggest problems are in some parts of the tunnels, there is complete corrosion of metal pipes and some fully exposed rebar sections, in addition to other issues.

Great West, after inspecting the tunnels, put together a report that had the sections in need of repair and replacing in a prioritized list. At the top of the list is the cave-in on 3rd Street. A section of the road fell into the creek in late October. The section is in the middle of the road and the city now has the street cut off from through-traffic. This was the catalyst for the city's pursuing the engineering report presented Wednesday.

"The Bullhook system itself is really complex," Theys said. "It's kind of a mismatch of different components."

Theys said later some of the cause for the deterioration of the Bullhook Channel is simple aging, but there are many problems that are the result of faulty construction.

Theys also said some sections of the pipes are two-thirds full of sediment and may create blockage in the future.

"Most of the problems are in city streets or in alleyways," Theys said. He added that the prioritized list of projects addresses those areas that have the biggest chance of endangering public safety and health if they fail.

"They're all identified as being in the public right-of-way," Theys said.

If the repairs are made, it will add another 75 to 100 years of life to those sections of the channel.

The city will be pursuing the Treasure State Endowment Project grant to help fund the project. The grant would match funds up to $500,000.

A prioritized list Great West created of the areas along the channel that have a public health or safety concern puts the total cost of repairs at around $2.76 million, but the complete list of areas that need replacing amounts to nearly $3.5 million.

"There's some different types of loans the city can pursue," Theys said.

The city, after it applies for the grant, will have to wait until the next legislative cycle in 2015 before officials know if they will receive the money. The governor must give a green light the grant can be used for the project, Theys said.

This would have repairs of the channel and streets starting around July 2015.

"It would be ideal," Theys said. He added the city could choose to move forward with the project if it wanted to, but funding is a problem.

Theys said their chances of receiving TSEP Grant are good, as they have proved that there is a public safety concern in needing to complete the repairs. The grant has accepted all projects pitched to them in the last three legislative cycles.

Woodrow Hoffman, a property owner near the 3rd Street cave-in, expressed concern about the state of the tunnels underneath his home and asked about the $25 Bullhook Upkeep Tax he pays for his home.

Courtesy photo

Part of the roadway is collapsed into the Bullhook on 6th Avenue in front of the DNRC building.

Doug Kaercher, the city finance director and city clerk, said the tax is just for upkeep such as mowing grass and is not substantial enough to use for making the repairs. Last year, the tax brought in $182,000.

Theys continued answering the audience's questions, saying that the streets will be in better shape after the work is completed.

"It will be better than the existing area," Theys said.

As part of the study and planning for the repairs, Great West must also look at whether or not there will be any environmental consequences of the work they are doing.

"This is a fairly straightforward project," Theys said, adding that there will be little impact by the work they are doing.

In a meeting April 21, Great West will release any findings they have about possible environmental impacts or listen to the public's concern.

If there are no findings or public comments, the city will move forward with the project.

 

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