Construction starts approaching for Broadway corridor, sewer plant in Cape

Monday, December 19, 2011

When the Cape Girardeau City Council makes decisions about easements, it tends to be largely perfunctory.

But when council members make two such decisions tonight, it will serve as a signal that construction starts for two of the city's biggest public projects of 2012 -- one the biggest in city history -- are rapidly approaching.

Two ordinances on tonight's agenda involve acquiring easements for the high-profile projects -- the construction of a new wastewater treatment plant and a redesigned Broadway corridor.

City officials said Friday that both projects are close to being let out for bid and construction should begin on the $3.25 million Broadway project in February and on the wastewater treatment plant in June.

Voters in April approved $72 million in bonds for the construction of the new sewer plant, the biggest capital improvements project in the city's history.

"These are very important projects," Mayor Harry Rediger said. "There are a lot of things going on and this is a very positive time. I think 2012 is going to be a very exciting year."

An ordinance about the Broadway corridor project will authorize the acquisition of temporary construction easements from about 15 property owners along the length of the project between Pacific and Water streets, said city engineer Casey Brunke.

Most of the easements are less than two feet in width, she said. The easements will allow work beyond the public right of way, she said, citing repairing sidewalks as an example. Since the easements are temporary, it will not cost the city anything to get them, she said.

Final plans are expected in January, Brunke said, with construction hopefully to start sometime in February. Plans still call for completing the project in December to coincide with the opening of Isle of Capri's new $125 million casino.

The project includes street resurfacing, sidewalk replacement and gutter improvements. A streetscape portion is intended to create a "pedestrian promenade" with seating areas, landscaping and 15-foot-wide sidewalks on the north side of the street.

The $3.85 million to be used for the project comes from the voter-approved Transportation Trust Fund. Part of that money, the $1 million for the streetscape, will then be reimbursed to the fund from revenue generated by Isle's casino operation.

The plan calls for going block by block, though Brunke said it has yet to be determined whether the work will start at Water or Pacific streets.

The city's new wastewater treatment plant is also on tonight's council agenda with a bill asking for authorization to allow the city to acquire a permanent sanitary sewer easement from the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway.

The city needs access to railway property near the corner of Poplar Street and Giboney Avenue so that sewer pipes can be built underneath the railroad, said public works director Tim Gramling. Gramling wasn't sure yet how much the easements would cost.

This is some of the last-minute detail work that's being done, Gramling said, before the two-year build begins in June. Plans are being completed, he said, and will be sent to the Department of Natural Resources this week for approval. While it's uncertain, Gramling is hoping to receive the permit within 60 days.

The city is building the new facility by 2014 to come into compliance with state regulations that no longer allow untreated wastewater to be bypassed into the Mississippi River, which happens with the existing plant about 30 to 40 times a year.

The most recent estimate for construction of the plant came in at $63 million, Gramling said, about $3 million less than a previous estimate. Because of the poor economy, competitive bids may come in even lower than that, he said.

Residents saw an average $20 per month increase in their sewer rates last July to help fund the plant. If the construction costs are considerably lower than projected, more sewer rate increases may not have to happen or -- in a best-case scenario -- they could even be lowered later on, Gramling said.

While official request for construction bids have yet to go out, the city recently advertised the project and asked for companies interested in building the plant to submit "pre-qualification" information, Gramling said, which drew submissions from 19 contractors.

The information received included lists of projects the contractors had worked for and other pertinent information. Only these companies will be allowed to bid on the project, Gramling said.

smoyers@semissourian.com

388-3642

Pertinent address:

401 Independence, Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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