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Subzero temps halt 8th Ave. project in Belle Fourche

February 10, 2019

BELLE FOURCHE — Arctic weather has put progress on Belle Fourche’s Eighth Avenue sewer interceptor project at a standstill for the foreseeable future as financial penalties against the contractor continue to grow.

Bret Olson, with Heavy Constructors, the Rapid-City based construction firm awarded the project, told city officials Wednesday that the operation is wholly shut down due to the frigid temps.

The project’s design includes a new sanitary sewer main under Eighth Avenue, starting at the State Street lift station, continuing underneath the Belle Fourche River and near the post office at Eighth Avenue and State Street to the south, ending near National Street.

Crews are currently working near National Street, which is closed. Traffic is detoured around the closure.

Olson said that approximately half of the concrete work on National Street is finished and the other half is ready to be poured as soon as weather allows.

“When we do get back, we’re hoping to get it poured in and we should be able to … get it opened back up right away,” he said.

With roughly two weeks worth of work left to do, Olson said, it’s up to Mother Nature at this point.

“If we wouldn’t have missed those three days last week, I think we … probably would (have been) be able to open it (National Street) this week,” Olson said.

Interim City Engineer Steve Nafus Wednesday voiced frustration about traffic issues to the southeast of Lynn’s Dakotamart, just off of National Street.

“We have people that are running past the barricades at Lynn’s, and I don’t know what to do about it,” he said.

National Street is closed at Seventh Avenue, just to the east of the grocery store. Nafus said people are creating their own detour from Seventh Avenue to access the grocery store by going around the barricades blocking off the grocery store’s loading dock area. Nafus said he didn’t see any way around the issue because he feared if they closed up the barricades more, people would resort to driving on the sidewalk to circumvent the barriers, causing a more dangerous public safety concern.

“The only thing we can do is maybe park a police car (nearby), and try to slow them down,” he said. “My biggest issue is they go through there so fast.”

As soon as the construction work moves another 50 feet south, Nafus said, it won’t be an issue as the entire area will be blocked off.

The alleyway behind Lynn’s Dakotamart is open for public traveling from the south to access the grocery store.

Potential negative consequences in the form of liquidated damages imposed upon the construction company accumulate each working day. The original completion date of Sept. 1, 2018, was pushed back to mid-October. Work continues now into the 16th week following the extension deadline. Each workday beyond Oct. 15, 2018, accrues $900 in penalties against Heavy Constructors. Assuming crews worked Monday through Friday, excluding Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day, the construction company is on the hook for more that $73,800 worth of penalties as of Friday. Currently, the construction company has not applied for a second time extension that could, if approved by the city, eliminate some or all of the financial penalties.

To date, approximately $3.738 million of the $4.13 million project has been paid, leaving approximately $459,852 worth of budgeted funds remaining.

The Belle Fourche City Council Monday approved a $89,560 contract amendment to be paid to HDR Engineering, of Rapid City, who performs the construction administration tasks related to the project. Nafus told the council that because the project is running long, so is the engineering bill. That, he said, is the purpose of penalizing the contractor in the form of liquidated damages for time the construction goes beyond the contract allowed.

“That $900 a day (penalty being charged to Heavy Constructors) should cover most, if not all, of this additional cost,” Nafus said. “They still have an estimated 12 weeks of work, according to HDR.”

The city engineer’s office, in conjunction with HDR Engineering, Inc., and Heavy Constructors typically meet every other Tuesday morning to discuss the project’s progress. However, due to scheduling conflicts, the next meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Feb. 20. The construction update meetings are open to the public and held in the upstairs conference room at Belle Fourche City Hall, located at 511 Sixth Ave.

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