Kerby water main replacement to start soon

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published June 25, 2021

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GROSSE POINTE FARMS — In advance of a major restoration project along Kerby Road from Kercheval Avenue to Mack Avenue this summer, underground water main work will be taking place.

After meeting with the city’s engineers to discuss the construction schedule, City Manager Shane Reeside said work to replace an old section of water main would be starting July 5. During a June 14 Farms City Council meeting at the Pier Park community building, Reeside said affected residents would be getting a letter soon about this project.

In preparation for the roadwork, Reeside said, a cast iron section of water main under Kerby between Ridge Road and Kercheval Avenue was found to be in poor condition and so brittle that crews found it hard to tap into the main.

Farms Water Superintendent Scott Homminga said the main was “in pretty deplorable shape” during a May 11 City Council meeting by Zoom.

This is “the oldest section” of water main under Kerby, dating back to the 1930s, Reeside said May 11. In addition, officials said the pipe was full of tuberculation, meaning it was full of mounds of corrosion, which is something that can happen to iron piping.

“It’s something that was fairly recently discovered,” Reeside said.

On June 14, Reeside said work on the water main was expected to take about two weeks. It will be followed by restoration of Kerby.

Although the water main hadn’t been subject to many breaks, officials felt that, given its age and condition, it would be best to replace it before the road was repaired, so that they wouldn’t have to tear up a new road later and incur even greater expense.

The section of water main from Ridge to Mack is newer and in good shape, Reeside said.

At the May 11 meeting, the council voted unanimously in favor of a low bid from Bidigare Contractors Inc. to do the water main replacement for $401,164. With a 10% contingency and an engineering cost of $33,000, the total project cost is not to exceed $474,804.

Bidigare “has done work for us in the past,” Homminga said.

Homminga said the bid was high because contractors are “seeing, across the board, 25% to 35% increases in costs for materials.” The city also had to scramble to get the project on the busy summer construction schedule.

“It’s kind of a rush job trying to get the bids and state approval for this project,” Homminga said.

City Councilman James Farquhar asked whether residents would be without water as a result of the main replacement.

“I don’t think you’ll be without water for any extended time,” Homminga responded.

City Controller Debra Peck Lichtenberg said the Farms has been working on assembling cash reserves for significant water and sewer projects like this one.

“We have the funds available,” Peck Lichtenberg said. “This is part of our long-term strategic plan.”

City Councilman Lev Wood, who made the May 11 motion to approve the low bid, said he approved of the foresight city administrators were showing.

“It needs to be replaced,” Wood said of the water main. “This would make good sense” to do now.