Forge Road Repairs Could Cost $1.2M
Contractor bills borough $35,000 for temporary repair of roadway.
Creating a permanent solution to the damage on Forge Road, a road just outside Smoke Rise that collapsed during Hurricane Irene, could cost the Borough of Kinnelon up to $1.2 million and take at least three months until construction begins.
Borough Engineer Tom Boorady spoke to the Kinnelon Council during a special emergency meeting on Thursday in which the council discussed appropriating funds to pay the contractor who completed an emergency temporary road. The council also authorized the borough engineer to begin drawing bid specifications for a permanent solution.
Boorady said the intensity of the water rushing through the channel near the roadway was too much for the channel to handle, causing the road to be damaged. Water from throughout Smoke Rise and park land in the borough finds its way to a central location in the area of Forge Road and Forge Bond, he said.
In order to correct the current situation, which has left four residents with access to the borough only by the temporary road, Boorady said the borough would need to build a culvert that is 20 feet wide by 10 feet high.
"We could have a meeting inside there almost," Boorady said to the council, explaining the size of the culvert needed.
Mayor Bob Collins said that when Forge Road was damaged, a dam was actually created, causing a water backup and ultimately leading to more damage. Councilman Andy SanFilippo said the borough built the road after a flood in 1987.
In addition to building the culvert, Boorady said the council has to consider other elements of the project, such as new drainage systems, repairing flood utilities, building a cutoff wall and a wall below the culvert and building fencing and rails for the safety of pedestrians.
The borough does have the option of completing the work under an emergency contract, but Boorady recommended going out to bid instead. Boorady also advised the council to build the culvert instead of a bridge, as a bridge would likely be more expensive.
While he advised the council to bond $1.2 million for the hard costs associated with construction of the culvert, Boorady also recommended the council bond $100,000 for soft costs, which would include hydraulic calculations, permit fees, the costs of going out to bid and more.
To show a price comparison, Boorady said Morris County has developed a preliminary budget for the repairs to Kinnelon Road, which also collapsed Sunday near Lake Rickabear, of $400,000 for hard costs. While that project is about half the size of the Forge Road repairs needed, Boorady said, the soft cost estimate is between $50,000 and $75,000.
"That's a number the county uses and they hope not to exceed it," he said.
Boorady said budgeting $1.2 million would put the borough in a safe place, as opposed to if the council bonded less than the amount needed for the project.
"I'm hoping we're going to come in under a million," he said.
Collins said the borough has already applied for grant money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Boorady said many municipalities have been sucessful in securing up to around $200,000 in grant money from the New Jersey Department of Transportation (DOT) based on need. He recommended the borough reach out to the DOT for additional money to that which FEMA awards, if any.
"The money we're talking about tonight may, in fact, be recovered by FEMA," Collins said.
Boorady also said that the project is one that affects more people than those who live on the road.
"A lot of people think this is about four residents. It's really not. It's about the water that affects all of us," he said.
As for safety in the interim, Boorady recommended the borough not allow pedestrians on the temporary roadway on Forge Road and that signs be placed asking motorists to drive only 10 mph. SanFilippo said he would reach out to Kinnelon Police Chief John Finkle to see if additional signs can be placed on the road that limit traffic to only local residents who need to use the road.
After the road collapsed, contractor Mike Fitzpatrick & Son worked to provide a temporary solution on the roadway. Councilman Dan O'Dougherty asked Boorady to confirm that the $35,000 cost was appropriate for the work and the council agreed to table paying the bill until the council's work session meeting next Thursday.
The council also discussed scheduling a bulk pick-up date for large items damaged by the storm to be picked up from residents' driveways. As opposed to creating an additional bulk pick-up day, the council agreed to move up the scheduled October date to as soon as possible in September unless FEMA agrees to foot the bill for an additional pick-up.
The council agreed to coordinate a date with Department of Public Works Superintendent John Whitehead and agreed that the pick-up should be held by the middle of the month.
As for Kinnelon Road, the council agreed to allow Collins to send a letter to Morris County urging them to allow the borough to create temporary one-lane access on the county-owned roadway.
"This is a time for Kinnelon, who doesn't ask for a lot, to say we need to be heard here," Collins said.
Collins said Tuesday that the borough has been utilizing a mutual aid agreement with Boonton Township for emergency services for those residents whose homes cannot be reached by Kinnelon's emergency responders due to the hole in the roadway. Kinnelon Police Lt. John Schwartz said there are about 20 residents affected by the road damage blocking their homes from the borough. Detours are in effect on the road.