City Council ups its game

Friday, September 5, 2014

We applaud the Cherokee City Council for its savvy assessment and recent action concerning a construction blunder involving a City water line associated with the recently completed River Road Bridge Replacement Project.

The issue at hand was the fact the water line replacement was not placed deep enough on the northwest side of the River Road, which could result in a frozen line in cold temperatures and untold repercussions for the City in years to come.

City Administrator Don Eikmeier reported that two engineers, the inspector, the contractor, and the IDOT either missed or ignored the blunder and all parties share fault; however, none would accept responsibility.

The cost to redo the water line completely is approximately $50,000 and would entail closing the River Road for another 3-4 months, tearing up portions of the new bridge culvert and underlying rock, and going under the creek bed to access the water line, all of which could result in additional problems.

And the River Road is a farm-to-market road and the fall harvest season is upon us.

The resolution was reached after much hand-wringing, and the admirable persistence of Council Member Chad Brown who led the charge that an error was made, hold those responsible accountable, it shouldn't become the City's problem, and it's up to the engineers and contractor to rectify the problem suitable for alll parties involved.

After a closed session in a special meeting Tuesday night, the Council came up with a workable resolution that cuts those making such a blunder some slack, yet still protects the City from possible costly problems down the road.

Engineers/architects get paid the big bucks for their ability to dot the "I" and cross the "T" when designing a project. This is especially true in projects involving State and/or Federal funding or grants such as the DOT monies involved in this project. For the expertise they tout and usually deliver professionally, and exorbitant fees they charge, there is absolutely no way such an elementary design error, as experienced in the River Road project, should ever materialize and then be continually "missed" by on-site inspectors.

The Council has elected to withhold $10,000 from the engineers' final payment for such a transgression. The City must pay City Attorney Wally Miller Jr. by the hour for his expertise to address, assess, and see this resolution through to fruition, barring any future litigation.

The engineering fees for the River Road Bridge Project totaled $167,000, for which the City, as owner, is 100-percent responsible.

Somebody tell the engineers they got off lucky.