Downtown Youngstown sewer project won’t be done until spring 2015; cost rises

By David Skolnick


A major downtown sewer project that’s been one problem after another — and was supposed to be finished two months ago — won’t be completed until around spring of 2015.

Underground AT&T wires and two duct banks containing telephone conduits underground, directly in the path of the sewer line on North Phelps Street between West Federal and West Commerce streets, stopped the project in that area in March — a month after it started.

There are about 20,000 splices to fiber-optic lines that AT&T will need to do on that road, and the company will get rid of the two duct banks in the road and replace them with one on the sidewalk, said Charles Shasho, deputy director of the city’s public works department.

Although the rest of the Phelps project from West Commerce to Lincoln Ave- nue should be done in a few weeks, Shasho said the portion between West Federal and West Commerce won’t even start until next spring.

“We need to redesign it,” he said. “It’s going to be a significant project. We hope to start bids in the spring. It will take close to one year off and on to complete. There’s a lot to it.”

Mayor Charles Sammarone said he’s concerned about the stability of the brick sewer line, which is about 100 years old, and was to be replaced under this project.

“There’s concern about all of our brick sewers,” Shasho said. “The need is pressing.”

The other issue, Sammarone said, is that AT&T’s downtown communications lines are on that street, and care is needed to make sure there isn’t a problem with them during work next year.

The locations of the AT&T lines and duct banks were surprises to city officials, Shasho said.

“We sent letters to all the utilities, and they mark the locations,” he said. AT&T “didn’t mark them all, and some weren’t marked accurately.”

The cost of this project continues to grow.

The original cost for design and work was $1,215,759.31.

The city’s board of control approved $52,356.61 in change orders Thursday for additional construction work, bringing the total cost to $1,673,421.62, a 37.6 percent increase from the original amount.

The city will deduct about $180,000 to $200,000 out of that amount, Shasho said, because of not doing the work between West Federal and West Commerce.

But that expense definitely will grow when proposals are sought for the job next year, he said.

The rest of the project should be done in a few weeks, Shasho said. That work includes putting handrails on a pedestrian walkway between West Commerce and West Wood streets, and some landscaping, he said.

Besides the AT&T problem, other issues with this project included unexpected improvements to manholes and catch basins, and a communications problem with not informing business owners about the project before it started in February.

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