What’s in the Ashland Public Works pipeline?

City staff laid out progress on plans to repave and rebuild Hersey Street, upgrade the city’s sewage line and open a road connecting Washington Street and Tolman Creek Road, among other projects, at the City Council study session Monday night.
The projects are parts of the city’s capital improvement plan, which includes new construction, expansion, renovations or projects that add to or prolong the lifespan of city assets. The city has 28 capital projects in this fiscal year with a budget of $14.8 million, according to the staff report.
So far, the city has spent just over $2 million, as most projects are still in the design stage.
Several budget committee citizen members have been critical towards capital projects funding, as it increased by 50.4 percent this biennium to improve streets, water and sewage treatment and the airport, and to fund parks’ capital projects as well.
Budget committee member Shaun Moran again pressed his ongoing request at the meeting for a financial report that would include whether a project will be exceeding its budget.
“That’s how you become financially responsible,” Moran said.
Public Works Director Paula Brown said the department is working to include the information in future report. She added that the process is time-consuming for staff because many projects are multi-year projects and have multiple funding sources.
According to Brown’s report, 18 projects in roadway, water and sewage, are on schedule. Two projects — pavement maintenance at the airport and sidewalk on Hersey Street — are completed.
Multi-millions plans on water treatment plans and East Nevada Street expansion projects are being putting on hold for further re-evaluation or updated reports, Brown said.
Here are the updates on some major projects from Monday’s report:
• The 2.5 million-gallon-per-day water treatment Plant and the 2.6 million-gallon reservoir and Clearwell/Crowson II:
Brown asked the City Council to hold off on the projects in November 2017 to further study the water needs in Ashland.
“We have spent several years on this, and all the work that has been done is not going to be thrown away,” Brown said Nov. 6. “We have the TAP project (Talent-Ashland-Phoenix pipeline), which provides substantial water in the winter.”
The proposed project, budgeted for $14.9 million, would have built a 2.5 million gallon water treatment plan. But Brown, who assumed her position in October, said the plan wouldn’t be as cost-efficient and beneficial because of the TAP project.
That also put a halt on plans for Clearwell/Crowson II treatment plant and reservoir — an $8.4 million project, Brown said.
“We are doing cost analysis to determine if we should build a new plant or we should fix the old plant,” Brown said in November.
The Public Works Department has received a report from a consultant firm, Brown said Tuesday. She will present the findings to the council at a study session on April 2.
The city has spent $672,142 on the projects the last fiscal year.
• Repaving and rebuilding Hersey Street: A much-anticipated project to renovate Hersey Street is on schedule and expected to start construction the next fiscal year, Brown said.
“This is a project that a couple of people on my staff are saying, ‘If that’s the only project gets done, I’d still be happy,’” Brown told the council Monday.
Complications with drainage under the street surface has stalled the project, Brown said. The city has recently awarded a contract to a Medford consultant engineers company to start survey work in February.
“The drainage has caused potholes in the streets, and it’s hard to fix,” Brown said, adding that the design phase will take about nine months.
The city will also have to identify and redirect wetland in the subsurface underneath Hersey Street between North Main Street and North Mountain Avenue, Brown said.
Public Works expects construction will finish in 2020. The city budgeted $4 million on the whole plan.
• Independent Way: Public Works is asking Oregon Department of Transportation to transfer roughly $1 million awarded to a project to expand East Nevada Street to open a street that would connect Tolman Creek Road and Washington Street.
The project would increase connectivity in south Ashland, making ways to further develop the city’s buildable land in the area.
“So far, it looks favorable,” Brown said. “But ODOT won’t reimburse any money that has been spent on this project.”
According to staff report, the project is also in design phase at 70 percent.
The city has spent $476,637 of the project’s $1.6 million budget.
• Wastewater projects: Public Works is moving forward with several projects meant to improve the city’s wastewater system, including the outfall relocation project, the temperature credits project and new oxidation ditch project.
The wastewater treatment plant outfall relocation project — moving it from Ashland Creek to Bear Creek — includes a relocation study and the cost of design. The project will improve thermal properties in Ashland Creek and is expected to complete initial design work in December. The second phase, including final design and construction, will depend on the permit process with the state Department of Environmental Quality.
Public Works has received acceptance from DEQ to jumpstart a temperature trading plan for shading along Bear Creek. Ashland still needs a formal approval from DEQ and expects to start in late spring.
A new oxidation ditch for the wastewater treatment plant is also on schedule. Staff anticipates going out to bid in the summer.
The three projects total up to $3.47 million. The city has already spent $308,452 collectively for all three of them.
—Reach reporter Tran Nguyen at 541-776-4485 or tnguyen@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on twitter @nguyenntrann.

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