County opts for savings, eliminates sea wall

Grady County commissioners held a special called meeting last Thursday to participate in a conference call with Joseph S. Monroe, senior associate with Schnabel Engineering to discuss issues regarding the construction of the Tired Creek Lake dam.
County officials were notified recently that it is unlikely there will be sufficient, suitable soil to complete the dam from the borrow pit originally identified by Schnabel Engineering. The designers of the dam have requested the county authorize the opening of a second borrow pit on the east side of the dam to complete the project.
Schnabel officials also presented county officials with pros and cons of a concrete sea well versus rip rap as a means of providing wave protection to the face of the dam.
Monroe told commissioners Thursday that the majority of the projects he has been associated with have rip rap rather than concrete sea walls. He said that the estimates for rip rap received during the decision phase were comparable to a concrete sea wall so the engineers presented the sea wall as an option.
Once it was realized that the county could save over $200,000 by agreeing to a change order and installing rip rap for wave protection Schnabel officials brought the option to the county’s attention.
Monroe said that movement in soils will occur and that if the sea wall was to crack repairs to it would be expensive. He also noted that the wall would be 5.5 feet tall and would stand 2.5 feet above the water and a child or senior citizen who might step off of it fishing could have a difficult time climbing out of the water.
The engineer said that rip rap requires maintenance, but that it would be easily accomplished by the county’s road department. He noted that Lakes Lanier, Blackshear, Seminole and Walter F. George all have rip rap and not a concrete sea wall.
Chairman T.D. David questioned Monroe if the rip rap option would have been brought up if not for the issue regarding the need for a second borrow pit.
According to Monroe, the engineers who designed the dam brought it up because of their concerns with the county being happy with the wall in the long term.
“If there is any movement that wall would crack and need to be patched. It’s much cheaper to put more rip rap down than to patch concrete,” Monroe said.
The board voted unanimously to authorize the change order and to eliminate the concrete sea wall and replace it with rip rap. According to Grady County Administrator Carlos Tobar, the savings to the county will be $214,783.
Some of that savings could be eaten up by the costs related to opening the second borrow pit.
Monroe told commissioners last week that there is about 80,000 to 90,000 cubic yards of soil remaining in the existing borrow pit that can be used for the dam, which is between 50,000 and 75,000 cubic yards short of completing the project.
“I’ve asked numerous times if there was sufficient dirt in the borrow pit to complete the dam. I was told there was ample dirt. Are we short because it’s soil we can’t use or you misfigured?” Commissioner Billy Poitevint asked Monroe.
“There are always unknowns until you begin digging into the ground. There is no definitive answers when digging in the ground. Mother Nature can be a mean woman sometime,” Monroe said.
Commissioner Charles Norton reminded Monroe that his firm had been paid approximately a million dollars to design the dam and another million to serve as the project manager. “We based everything on your work and we paid you your price,” Norton said.
County officials expressed their desire for Schnabel to cover the additional $77,213 that it is projected to cost to open the second borrow pit.
“I understand your frustration,” Monroe said and he agreed to contact Brad Cole Construction officials, the general contractor on the dam project, to see if the cost to open the second borrow pit could be reduced.
“Based on the information we had there should have been an adequate supply of dirt to finish the dam in the original borrow pit,” Monroe said.
Grady County Attorney Kevin S. Cauley told commissioners the coordination with the regulatory agencies regarding the opening of the second borrow pit had begun. “Who will be responsible for the cost of opening the new borrow pit is yet to be determined,” Cauley said.
After much discussion, the board voted unanimously to authorize the opening of the second borrow pit, but no action was taken regarding the anticipated $77,213 expense of opening the new pit.
Monroe said he would be in contact with the county attorney regarding the final price and Cauley said he would bring back all information to the board for its consideration.

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