Council eyes fix for streetscape pavers

·3 min read

Jul. 21—OTTUMWA — Despite issues with pavers settling in the Ottumwa Main Street downtown streetscape, the council approved releasing final payment to the contractor that did the work.

After celebrating the completion of the more than $5 million project in October, it did not take long for issues to arise, particularly with the crosswalk and intersection pavers along Main Street in downtown Ottumwa. Complaints have been rolling into councilmembers and city offices since.

"The intersections are not good, and we get all kinds of complaints from citizens about it," councilman Skip Stevens said.

Settlement issues with the installed pavers meant to help with water drainage are creating bumpy rides for Ottumwans. The issues cropped up almost immediately — officials had already attempted in December to relay some of the pavers to address the issues.

A review and soil analysis show the contractor was not at fault, Public Works Director Larry Seals told the council Tuesday. After reviewing with the engineer, Seals said the state standards the project was designed with, and the contractor adhered to, is what's to blame. Therefore, the final $190,900.34 payment will be made to the contractor.

Seals said the contract will remain open while a solution is sought for the settlement of the permeable pavers. A future presentation was promised to the council to go over the determined solution, perhaps at the council's next meeting.

"The determination has been made that, basically, the limestone rock has broken down over time," said Seals. "But the contractor used the correct gradations, the correct stone according to the specifications. He put it in and compacted it, we have the test results to show he put it in according to specifications, so he is due his money."

Seals said Ottumwa is not the only city that has seen this problem after working with the Statewide Urban Design Standards.

The grant funding the city received for the project requires green features like permeable pavers. The city could have to pay back a half-million dollars if the ultimate solution does not include those features.

In other action:

— The council approved a grant application seeking to install a roundabout at the Albia Road and Quincy Avenue intersection. City officials say previous roundabouts in town have been successful. The cost would be estimated at $483,000. If the grant is awarded, the entire cost would be funded by the grant.

Since two roundabouts were installed on North Ferry Street in 2018, there have been no accidents resulting in a personal injury and just 11 property damage accidents reported.

For crashes at the proposed intersection, the main causes are speed, left turns or not obeying the traffic signals — all of which would be addressed by a roundabout.

— The city will fund the remainder of an $18,400 project to prepare a historic structure report at 131 E. Main St., or the former First National Bank building. The State Historical Society of Iowa awarded $7,350 toward the project. The remaining cost will be funded through city funding marked for grant matches.

Kyle Ocker is the editor of the Ottumwa Courier and the Oskaloosa Herald. He can be reached at kocker@ottumwacourier.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kyle_Ocker.

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