Utility road work closer
by RICK NORTON, Associate Editor
Feb 11, 2013 | 1071 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A long-awaited project to widen stretches of Benton Pike and Durkee Road N.E. has taken a giant leap forward with a recent vote by the Cleveland Board of Public Utilities to begin relocating roadside water lines.

Both road sections serve the new $200 million Whirlpool Cleveland Division manufacturing facility and factory distribution center on Benton Pike, as well as growing amounts of public drive-thru traffic on the busy thoroughfares.

Several hundred Whirlpool workers have already transitioned to the cavernous, 1-million-square-foot plant from the existing century-old manufacturing complex on King Edward Avenue. More will be arriving as the relocation nears its mid-2013 completion. This will increase area traffic congestion, signaling the need to complete the roadway updates.

Once Whirlpool finishes its move, some 1,500 employees will work at the new plant and warehouse in multiple shifts.

Widening the affected stretches of two-lane roads not only will enhance traffic flow, but will improve motorist safety, according to original designs negotiated by the Tennessee Department of Transportation, local government leaders and Whirlpool.

Water line relocation costs, to be absorbed by Cleveland Utilities per the original agreement, are coming in almost twice as high as the amount budgeted. However, this is because the project was budgeted before engineers had a full understanding of the amount of water line that would need to be relocated, according to Tom Wheeler, CU president and CEO.

CU had budgeted $200,000 for the project; however, the bid — awarded to Morgan Contracting — is actually $390,002.

“This is considerably more than we had budgeted,” Wheeler told utility board members. “But, when we budgeted [the project], we didn’t know the full scope of the amount of water line to be removed.”

Because the road improvements are considered high-priority by TDOT, the city of Cleveland and Whirlpool, the utility company will delay the construction of a new Georgetown Road water tank in order to pay for the water line relocations and still remain within budget. Cost of the water tank will be included in a future CU budget, according to Craig Mullinax, vice president of CU’s Water Division, and Ken Webb, CU senior vice president and chief financial officer.

The relocation will include 1,900 linear feet of 20-inch water main, 4,310 linear feet of 8-inch line and 1,215 linear feet of 6-inch line.

Morgan Contracting submitted the lowest bid. Three others included Hampton Backhoe Service, $427,995.52; Roy Joe Angel Construction, $429,575; and Mayse Construction Co., $440,604.15. Chastain Construction was invited to bid, but did not submit a package by deadline.

Board members approved the Morgan Contracting bid, on staff recommendations, on a unanimous 5-0 vote following a motion by Eddie Cartwright and second by Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland, who serves as a CU board member. Others approving the bid included Chari Buckner, Joe Cate and board chairman Aubrey Ector.

In other CU Water Division reports, Mullinax updated the board on the ongoing centrifuge replacement project whose target startup date has now been set for March 15.

Mullinax also gave short briefings on various water tank refurbishment projects, other water line relocations to support future road improvements in Cleveland and Bradley County, and the ongoing wastewater rehabilitation initiative known as SCOPE 10, a vast sewer system revamp that will cost an estimated $30 million over the next decade. SCOPE 10 is already in its second year. The project’s objective is to reduce inflow and infiltration into the utility’s existing sewer line system.

I/I is a major contributor to sewer overflows and in-city flooding during periods of heavy rainfall.