Thursday, September 24, 2020

Goodland’s New Water Line Half Done

November Completion Date Forecast


Every day high tides lapped at the edges of the road, most of the time covering portions of it. Here workman must slosh though it to get their work done. Inset: Fred Sexton, the congenial onsite inspector who makes sure that everything is done according to specifications and on time.

Every day high tides lapped at the edges of the road, most of the time covering portions of it. Here workman must slosh though it to get their work done. Inset: Fred Sexton, the congenial onsite inspector who makes sure that everything is done according to specifications and on time.

Quality

Enterprises (QE), the general contractor, could not have seen this coming when they won the contract to install Goodland’s new water delivery system last winter. 2017 has been the wettest and hottest year on record in South Florida. Torrential rains and 90-plus degree days were accompanied by the invasion of hordes of ravenous salt marsh mosquitoes, which were breeding undisturbed in the surrounding wetlands. Some called it biblical. On top of all this, the summer spring tides, in combination with the high water table, lapped onto the road and filled the ditches and entry holes as fast as they were dug. Workmen had to slosh around in the stuff as they worked. “I have never seen anything like this,” said Fred Sexton, the onsite inspector. Sexton, a tough ex-marine, has been in construction most of his life, including a tour in Vietnam and a year in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, as a construction contractor. He has been sent all over the world to partic ipate in construction projects. He has seen it all – and now this.

Every day high tides lapped at the edges of the road, most of the time covering portions of it. Here workman must slosh though it to get their work done.

Every day high tides lapped at the edges of the road, most of the time covering portions of it. Here workman must slosh though it to get their work done.

Construction began on May 30, and despite numerous rain delays, is on schedule to be completed in November. From San Marco Road to Angler Drive, about a half mile, no ditches were necessary. Eight hundred foot sections of the 10-inch pipe were pulled through a series of four-foot deep underground tunnels, pre-bored and running parallel to the old water line. Except for heavy machinery, for boring the tunnels, pulling the pipe through, and pumping the water out of entry trenches, the shoulder remained undisturbed on this stretch. Throughout this phase, which was completed by mid-July, there was relatively little inconvenience to Goodland traffic. One lane of traffic was only necessary in sections where the heavy machinery was operating.

Work begins with a tunnel under San Marco Road to ultimately connect the new water line with the city line. Hole at lower right is where new line will turn toward Goodland.

Work begins with a tunnel under San Marco Road to ultimately connect the new water line with the city line. Hole at lower right is where new line will turn toward Goodland.

 

 

The final stretch of the line, from Angler Drive to Harbor Place (Stan’s) was begun in early July. It would consist of an open ditch into which the pipe was laid and turned out to be trickier and more problematic. An open ditch had to be dug for this last 1,000 feet of road. Because of the high water table (from a few inches to onefoot below the surface) the ditch began filling up as fast as it was dug. High tides increased this inpouring. There was nothing for it but to pump it out. First, one pump was tried, but another had to be added, despite the fact that by Sexton’s estimate, each was pumping “millions of gallons” a day. With all this heavy equipment, plus the backhoes and front-end loaders, lane closures became more frequent but patently necessary. It was handled well by the four flagmen who were always on duty. At this writing, the battle with the seawater continues. Sometimes, it is a close run thing.

This was as bad as it ever got during construction. Sometimes as many as four flagmen kept the traffic moving without undue delay.

This was as bad as it ever got during construction. Sometimes as many as four flagmen kept the traffic moving without undue delay.

Sexton has been forced to work around tide schedules. This week, they are starting at 5 AM to avoid afternoon high tides, and other days, they start later to avoid earlier highs. His crew sometimes works weekends. Notwithstanding, he expects to be finished with the open trench around August 17. I asked him why it would take until November to finish the job. Sexton broke out his engineering charts and obliged. “There’s an awful lot of work to be done after this,” he said, “After we get all [800 foot] sections of pipe connected (none have been so yet ) we’ve still to make major connections and conduct a battery of tests to make sure that we are in compliance with all regu- lations.” The major connections begin with a link up to Marco Island’s water line on other side of San Marco Road and end at Stan’s where the new pipe will be connected to the line which serves the rest of Goodland.

Seawater from just one pump is emptied into a holding tank and thence to a series of holding ponds (along Harbor Place) where it is filtered and gradually returned to the Marco River.

Seawater from just one pump is emptied into a holding tank and thence to a series of holding ponds (along Harbor Place) where it is filtered and gradually returned to the Marco River.

Directional drilling machine is boring a tunnel under the shoulder, to accommodate the first section of new pipe.

Directional drilling machine is boring a tunnel under the shoulder, to accommodate the first section of new pipe.

To date there has been only one brief disruption of water service. Otherwise, life goes on here much as it always has.

Workmen making a connection to Sunset Court cannot work without the aid of two pumps (at middle). Water was pouring in from the walls of the trench at an astonishing rate.

Workmen making a connection to Sunset Court cannot work without the aid of two pumps (at middle). Water was pouring in from the walls of the trench at an astonishing rate.

Barry was a practicing attorney before he worked as a Special Agent of the FBI for 31 years. Barry worked for several government agencies another ten years before retiring to Goodland in 2006. Barry is presently the Secretary of the Goodland Civic Association.

Directional drilling machine has just pulled this section of new pipe (still covered with dirt), back through the tunnel it had bored earlier.

Directional drilling machine has just pulled this section of new pipe (still covered with dirt), back through the tunnel it had bored earlier.

Shoulder is undisturbed as drilling goes on beneath. Drill will follow path of green extension cord at left, which sends signals to a corresponding cord in the drill shaft.

Shoulder is undisturbed as drilling goes on beneath. Drill will follow path of green extension cord at left, which sends signals to a corresponding cord in the drill shaft.

 

 

Above: Pipes are spliced together into 800-foot sections, which will then be pulled through the tunnel. Excavations from open ditch, causing temporary lane closures.

Above: Pipes are spliced together into 800-foot sections, which will then be pulled through the tunnel. Excavations from open ditch, causing temporary lane closures.

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