BRATTLEBORO—The Selectboard took another step towards solving the stalled Black Mountain gravity sewer line project.
Board members approved $200,000 for continued construction phase engineering services from Hoyle, Tanner, & Associates on Jan. 19.
The town hired Kingsbury Construction to install the sewer line, which will replace a more costly pump station.
In an email, Director of Public Works Steve Barrett explained that the gravity system would be more cost effective than a pump station over time. The estimated expense for operation and maintenance of the Black Mountain Pump station is $15,000 per year, while pump stations, with a current replacement cost of $1 million, have a life expectancy of 20 to 30 years. “So every 20-plus years you have a capital expense that will exceed a million dollars,” he wrote.
Gravity lines, on the other hand, have “minimal” annual maintenance costs, said Barrett. “We currently have gravity sewer lines in town that have been in service for over 100 years!”
Kingsbury Construction installed a sewer pipe sleeve under Interstate 91 and a sewer main from the VFW to Black Mountain Road.
According to a memo to the board Barrett, both of the segments have not met the project’s specifications.
The town has paid approximately two-thirds of the contract’s price tag, said Barrett. The town has stopped payments until the project meets specifications.
The gravity line project ran past its summer deadline. Last fall, heavy rains contributed to flooding of businesses at nearby Black Mountain Square.
Town Attorney Robert Fisher of Fisher & Fisher sent notice to Kingsbury about potentially terminating its contract.
According to Barrett, representatives of the town and Kingsbury agreed on Jan. 12 to keep working on the project.
Kingsbury will develop separate solutions for the project’s two segments, said Barrett. The town; Hoyle, Tanner; and the State of Vermont Facilities Engineering Division will review Kingsbury’s recommendations.
The recommendations, costs, and feasibility will go through a review process.
Barrett said Hoyle, Tanner has provided approximately $100,000 in additional engineering services since the project stalled.
He recommended that the town cover those expenses and an additional $100,000 for services over the next five months. Barrett suggested funding the $200,000 from the Utilities Fund.