Whitehall-Coplay Press

Friday, May 24, 2019

Front St. work still leads meeting agenda

Wednesday, October 10, 2018 by PAUL CMIL Special to The Press in Local News

CWSA board member unhappy with sewer project

Coplay’s sewer project on Front Street is still a contentious matter within the borough, the Coplay Whitehall Sewer Authority (CWSA) board and the contractor. The project, originally scheduled for completion by December 2017, extended well beyond its completion date. A substantial completion letter was issued in July that conjured up a new set of concerns.

The project was plagued by poor soils, bad substrates, collapsing trenches, bad weather, poor-quality cement work and a continuing host of problems. The project is substantially over budget.

When these types of problems occur, there are steps taken after the project to analyze the defects and see where improvements can be made.

Board member James Roth seemed abrupt in his assessment directed at CWSA Engineer Darryl Jenkins and Attorney Jack Stover.

The first concern was about granting substantial completion to the Front Street contractor. The roads are still not up to the standards set by Coplay Borough or CWSA. The fix proposal was to run a hot patch plate over the pavement in order to smooth out ripples. Some improvement was noted, but the result was still not up to standards.

A second company proposed removing the top layer and repaving. The expected cost was around $53,000. CWSA and the Borough of Coplay wanted to take this option as part of the settlement. They were blocked because they had already issued the letter of substantial completion.

Roth appeared livid about this outcome.

“We asked if signing the substantial completion letter would hinder us, and we were told by you (Jenkins and Stover) that it would not. Now we can’t get this road fixed without spending additional funds that should be coming from the contractor,” he said.

Roth criticized the lack of on-site controls.

In his remarks, Roth indicated the contractor shortchanged the project by using less materials. Records on the amount of material used were incomplete, lending some credence to his argument.

“On-site supervision was poor. We should have a slip on every bit of the materials used, and we don’t,” he said.

Jenkins countered that drivers bring materials in by the ton, but construction documents are calculated in yards required. Jenkins did recognize and acknowledge the problem.

The compounding problems and frustration with the contractor and the project created numerous distractions that may have been beyond the ability of the on-site team to solve. Roth seemed to acknowledge the situation but criticized management that no action was taken to correct the situation.

“We rely on you to address these problems, and we were let down,” he said.

The board will continue to review the project and the lessons learned. Board member Paul Boyle, Coplay’s public works director, is unsatisfied with the end product and joined with Roth to address the situation.

The board did not resolve its concerns. The board was also legally bound to release $53,000 to a contractor who did a poor job.

On a lighter note, an administrative problem on a proposed solar bid package for one of the pumping stations was resolved. The board gave a go-ahead for the project.

CWSA received a grant to add public sewer systems to Prospect Street.