Categorized | National News

Additional Road Works To Cost Gov’t $3.8 Million

The government will have to shell out an additional $3.3 million to $3.8 million to repair a number of pipes that have sprung leaks in New Providence.

Works Minister Philip Davis made the announcement in the House of Assembly yesterday.

Minister Davis said this “unfortunate and expensive” discovery was following “bad decision” made some three years ago during the course of the New Providence Road Improvement Project (NPRIP).

He explained that in 2010 the Water and Sewage Corporation (WSC) requested the Ministry of Works to replace service laterals on existing water mains on Blue Hill Road between Wulff Road and Duke Street; on Market Street between Wulff Road and Duke Street and on Blue Hill Road South between Soldier Road and Carmichael Road.

“The WSC specified and provided JCCC with 90 degree three-quarter inch plastic push-fit Talbot elbows for connecting the laterals to the existing mains. JCCC installed a total of 214 laterals using specified elbow,” Minister Davis said.

“To date a total of 19 of these elbows have failed resulting in water leaks. The failures started to manifest in late 2012. The failed elbows have been replaced and the asphalt road surface patched temporarily. Permanent repairs requires replacement of pavement 50 feet either side of a patch following the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) standard for road works which we have adopted.”

The minister said the ministry’s Consultant Engineer for the NPRIP Mott MacDonald brought in an engineer from the United Kingdom, who with the assistance of WSC and other agencies are carrying out investigative works to determine the cause of the elbows’ failures.

Minister Davis said the investigations produced two preliminary reports.

He explained what was the most likely cause of the elbows’failures.

“The elbows’ manufacturer has advised that the elbow fittings are designed for use on potable water systems to withstand internal hydraulic pressure only. The elbow is not tested for use in a load bearing below ground application. However, WSC has advised that this type of fitting was used successfully on other projects in below ground location,” Minister Davis said.

He added that the quality of fitting and alignment of sleeve and fitting were also a factor.

“This is related to possible material defects of the elbow fitting occurring either during fabrication or through decay of the material strength due to chemical attack on the fitting i.e. a high level of residual chlorine in the water. This will be evaluated by conducting testing of the fittings at an approved laboratory,” Minister Davis said.

“A proportion of the observed failures feature a level difference between the sleeve and the elbow fitting or a longer or shorter than average length of exposed lateral pipe between the elbow and the end of the sleeve. It is possible that settlement of the lateral pipe or sleeve as a result of mechanical compaction or the construction method may have imposed excessive loads on the elbows and/or damages before installation during installation and in service – the shallow cover of fill material above the existing pipes and replacement laterals prior to the start of mechanical compaction may also have imposed excessive load and stress on the elbow fittings.”

The minister said the manufacturer of the Talbot plastic elbow has submitted a report that proposes the fitting may not be suitable for the purpose specified by WSC.

“The manufacturers have also suggested a possible chemical attack by high residual chlorine in the water as a potential cause of failure. They have, however, confirmed that they have no official guidelines for chlorine levels. If chemical attack is found to significantly reduce the material strength then it will be argued that WSC had material strength then it will be argued that WSC had specified a fitting that is not fit for a below ground potable water system,” Minister Davis said.

Minister Davis said the government will like to take a preventative approach to fix the problems.

That would mean it would need to replace 77 Talbot plastic elbows in Blue Hill Road North between Wulff Road and Duke Street; 66 at Market Street between Wulff Road to Lewis Street and two on Robinson Road.

“It is proposed to continue replacing the failed elbows on a case by case basis. In the interim, Mott MacDonald will continue with lab testing and investigations of the failed elbows recording and monitoring elbow/lateral failures as they occur and prepare a final report for determining the liability and options to address the installed laterals,” Minister Davis said.

“Residents, Businesspersons and the whole community have experienced a great deal of hardship and inconvenience for the past three years of construction activity. It is therefore important that my ministry keep you and the public at large fully informed on the final agreed strategy fix the laterals so that the public might plan for eventualities.”

Opposition Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis took exception to the minister blaming the Ingraham administration for the failed elbows.

“How could you blame me for something if the engineers recommended something and followed the engineers’ advice? You can’t blame me. I only could do certain things to follow the engineer’s professional advice,” he said.

But Minister Davis was adamant that the former government was at fault.

“I am saying that a bad decision was made in the first place under their watch to acquire the 214 plastic Talbot elbows to be used as lateral below the surface. If you read through the report, it will clearly show that this is not a recall. A decision was made to buy these elbows. That was a bad decision,” he said.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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