Montague OKs money to fix sewer mistake

MONTAGUE — Money has been approved and more is in the pipeline to correct the sewer repair mistake on Millers Falls Road and Industrial Boulevard.

The impact of a mistake that might have proved very expensive to the town has been lessened by the subsequent discovery that the work needed to repair that mistake is also work that would have to have been done regardless.

The mistake is that new pipe laid to replace the blocked section along Millers Falls Road does not meet up with the existing pipe, finishing above the other pipe in a gravity-reliant system in which slope is important. It seems, however, that the existing pipe is too badly degraded for a connection even if the lines had met as intended.

If everything had gone according to plan, the replacement of a severely blocked section of sewer pipe along Millers Falls Road might have cost roughly $600,000 to $650,000, according to Town Administrator Frank Abbondanzio.

The Board of Selectmen on Monday approved payments to the contractor and engineer for the work completed and additional money for the emergency fix, Abbondanzio said.

The emergency fix previously authorized by the Board of Selectmen, pending approval from state agencies and negotiation with the contractor, is now under way, according to Abbondanzio, with new pipe to be installed from the intersection to the first manhole on Industrial Boulevard.

The selectmen authorized payment of the $474,815 due to Baltazar Contractors of Ludlow for the original job, less the standard 5 percent withheld until the completion of a project, a $163,000 addition to the original contract that includes the new emergency work and a further $30,000 for unanticipated work.

Payments proceed despite the mistake.

“Well, basically the contractor did do what he was contracted to do,” Abbondanzio said.

“There’s a lot of issues of where the ultimate responsibility lies, why the misalignment occurred at all,” Abbondanzio said, although the mistake didn’t have the impact it could have, and the town lawyer is looking into it.

Involved are the contractor, engineer and surveyor.

The selectmen also signed off on the roughly $38,000 owed engineering firm Camp, Dresser & McKee for the original project and $50,000 to engineer the additional work, including developing alternatives for the remainder of the non-emergency work, to be bid out and presented to a special town meeting, likely in September, Abbondanzio said.

With the pipe under Industrial Boulevard found to be in poor shape, Paul Gilbert of Camp, Dresser & McKee at the last meeting presented preliminary options with price tags ranging from $370,000 to $920,000, with $1.6 million at the outside for the entire project.

You can reach Chris Curtis at:
or 413-772-0261, ext. 257

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