Monday, September 20, 2010

Parisi Construction VS Mother Nature

Score: Parisi 1, Nature 0...    But nature always bats last

Since Gilmore St is a hilly construction site, close to Lake Wingra, Contractor Report is going to monitor events closely.  It's an especially interesting match, with Parisi going the extra mile to meet the challenge.

The first inning began with a rain of 0.57 inches on Saturday (9/18/10). Photos were taken about 6:00 pm on Sunday.  Overall, the erosion-control measures were adequate for this amount of rain.  But it was a light rain--probably the measures would have started to fail--dumping sediment beyond the site--above perhaps 1 inch of rain.  Details for each method...
Overall, very little sediment left the site.
Photo shows bottom of Gilmore at Monroe.

Check dams

Runoff did an end run around most of the nine check dams on Gilmore St, but as you would expect, the further down Gilmore, the more water accumulated.  So the lowest 4 check dams all had water flowing around them.

Dam 7 at Cross St, a small one, had water flow around and then down Cross St, washing a small amount of sediment into an unprotected inlet on Chapman St.
The check dams are robust and fairly effective.  Their problems:
  • Runoff flowed around most of the dams, especially on the inside where space has been left for traffic.
  • The dams are made of large stones.  Check dams are supposed to have 1" stone on the upper side, to more effectively filter sediment--but these dams do not have small stones..  Dam 6 was so porous that much runoff flowed through the middle, creating a small gully below it.
Solutions:  Create or enlarge gravel wings on either side of the dams.  Add 1" clear stone to upper side.

Catch basins

A lot of runoff entered Gilmore from Gregory St.

The basins were too small to contain all of this light rain, overflowing and causing end runs around the dams.  But the small basins did catch a lot of the sediment.

At the bottom of Gilmore, runoff overflowed the basin
and did an end run around the dam.

Solutions:  Dig larger basins, and/or divert clear runoff entering from upper Cross St and Gregory St.  Another catch basin needs to be built below Dam 7 on Cross St, using silt socks anchored by concrete or gravel barriers.  The overflow from this basin should be directed into the stormwater inlet there.

Compacted sand on excavated side of street

For this light rain, the compacted sand (probably with polymer added) worked well--although a few small gullys did form (right).

This site is similar to Edgewood Avenue, except that here runoff enters from two blocks--Cross and Gregory Streets.  The Edgewood site wasn't fed by any other streets.  Nevertheless, Edgewood was heavily gullied by only 1.75 in of rain last summer. 

The cause of the Edgewood disaster was leaving both sides of the street bare, plus inadequate check dams.  The dams were too few, and they didn't protect the whole street.  Projecting a short distance from the sides, they aimed water towards the middle, where large gullies formed. 

Edgewood Av during a storm of 1.75 inches on June 21

Compacted sand isn't strong enough to prevent this from happening on Gilmore in a similar storm.

Improvements needed to prevent gullies:
  • If possible, don't remove pavement on both sides at once.
  • Use silt socks to fine-tune direction of runoff between dams, preventing one gully from forming.
  • Reduce volume of runoff by diverting clear runoff from Gregory St, and by diverting runoff from upper Gilmore to a temporary catch basin on Cross St.
Update--Monday evening

Monday's work suggests that Parisi may be trying to divert runoff from Gregory St by removing the pavement, to create a shallow channel so runoff from Gregory can get over the hump of Gilmore St and continue down Gregory (rather than flowing down Gilmore).

Looking up Gregory from Gilmore. Runoff can still enter Gilmore (L)

If that is the goal, the grade isn't sufficient to divert runoff coming from Gregory.  Further grading needs to be done.  Removal of the pavement has actually made things worse--now runoff from the upper (NW) gutter of Gregory can also flow down Gilmore.

More photos of Sept 19 after rain

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Parisi shows welcome creativity and care at sensitive Gilmore site

Parisi Construction recently began work resurfacing Gilmore St, between Monroe and Gregory.  Contractor Report is very pleased to note this company's creativity and diligence in erosion control.

Note large check dams, long gravel pad, clean street/gutters on left.
View from Monroe St up Gilmore.

This is a sensitive site, because it's steep, close to Lake Wingra, and has runoff entering from outside, from Cross and Gregory streets.

We appreciate these measures that go beyond the minimum
  • Large check dams, holding large stones together with wire cages (called gabions)
  • Silt sock in one of the gravel pads; gravel pads of regulation length
  • Thorough cleaning of the street, using water plus a bobcat
  • Sand compacted with a roller on the disturbed side of the street.
  • Parisi responded within hours to requested improvements
Nevertheless, one concern remains:  The catch basins (pits in the street) at the bottom of the hill are almost certainly too small for all the runoff resulting from a big storm.*   The pits there may overflow, flushing much sediment onto Monroe St and into the stormwater inlets there.

Pit (catchment basin) in front of dam, at bottom of Gilmore.
The pit will quickly overflow; then water will flow around the dam.

Solutions exist to reduce the runoff going down the steep hill:
  • Deflect clean runoff coming from Gregory Street, so it continues down Gregory
  • Send some runoff from higher on Gilmore St into a temporary cloth catchment basin on the lower side of Cross St (where there's a stormwater inlet).
  • There is also one stormwater inlet next to Wingra School which could accept some runoff from Gilmore St.  A temporary channel to that inlet would have to be built.
#    #    #

*  Probably the pits will get larger as construction proceeds--as pipe is laid.  Still, the same solutions apply.  By deflecting and detaining runoff higher up, less runoff will come down the steep hill--meaning less erosion, less damage to the construction zone, and less cleanup.

More photos from 9/15.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Erosion control error will cause extra work for Rawson

At their Old Middleton Rd construction site, Rawson Construction has had numerous problems.  Now, failure to filter runoff flowing into a box culvert will cause additional, unnecessary work.

This is the sole exit for stormwater from a large basin.  Rawson neglected to filter stormwater entering this box culvert during recent heavy rains of over 2 inches.

The area around the culvert construction, especially its sides, are heavily disturbed.  The only protection between this culvert and Lake Mendota, half a mile away, is one gravel dam.  It's quite porous, allowing fine sediment to pass.

During recent storms, a layer of fine sediment 1-2 inches deep was deposited in the culvert.

This sediment will have to be removed before the next rain.  Otherwise, it will fill the pool above the gravel dam, and/or pass through the pores in the gravel dam. 

If it's not cleaned out before the gravel dam is removed at the end of the project, then obviously it will flush to Lake Mendota in subsequent storms.

There's a significant amount of sediment here.  I made a rough estimate--the box culvert now contains from 1/5 to 2/5 of a dump truck of sediment.*

This error could have been avoided if the sides of the pit had been better protected, and if the clear water coming from the creek above had been channeled directly into the culvert (before it picked up sediment).

The bottom line:  Poor erosion control can result in costly delays and remedial work.

#     #     #
Who is responsible for this site

Design Engineer: Lisa Coleman, 266-4093, City Engineering,
Construction Engineer: John Fahrney, City Engineering,

Contractor: Rawson Contractors, Kenneth Servi, President,

Permit authority: Tim Troester, (608) 267-1995,

Erosion Control Permittee: Signed by Robert Phillips, delegated to John Fahrney, City Engineering,(608) 266-9091,

Grantor of permit for construction of ponds: DNR Water Management Specialist Cami Peterson, 608-275-3208. No mention was made in the permit of the need to deflect runoff from the ponds under construction.

Calculations: The culvert is 94' long and 12' wide.  The mud inside was estimated at 1-2" deep.  A dump truck contains 16 cubic yards.

Other articles on Rawson

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

What it means to be cited on Contractor Report for violations

If your company is cited here for violations....
  • You could be sued, with penalties of $37,500 per violation per day.  Reports on this blog led to a citizen's suit against Speedway Sand and Gravel.  More
  • The detailed photo documentation we provide is there for all to see, including the courts.
  • Potential clients will find out.  If a client simply googles your company name, and we have covered you, our story will appear on page two of Google results.  This is how some new readers find our blog.
  • You will be inspected soon.  But no problem--the City is on your side.  They are being sued by citizens also.  Agencies like DNR are too overworked to inspect unless there is a complaint (from this blog).
  • Our reports provide the basis for stories in the press.  We don't actively seek press coverage, because that promotes posturing and hot air.  We'd prefer honest discussion and a search by all for a solution to the problem.  One news storyAnother.
  • The Alder for your area will find out.  We usually notify Alders when there's a violation in their district.   Several Alders read this blog often, and one is a "follower."
  • If you have a public relations firm, they will send you a big bill for following the negative publicity on our site.  The PR firm of one large contractor spent hours crawling over our site (17 return visits).  In the end, their advice will probably be: "Obey the law if you want to keep your green image."
  • City Engineering sent a letter to one contractor warning them they could be "decertified" after we discussed the company with City officials.
  • We are watching for falsified self-inspection reports.  One contractor reported the stormwater inlet filters had been inspected and cleaned, when the photos from a day or so later showed weeds growing in the same clogged inlet.  Falsified reports are fraud.
  • City officials have visited this blog at least 59 times (to date).
  • DNR officials have visited this blog.
  • People from 23 US states and 17 countries have visited this blog.  Your deeds are known across the world.
  • We average about 10 hits a day.  Sometimes up to a hundred.  Not large, but it's a local blog, and the readers are your clients, boss, inspectors, peers, and investors.  A few readers have spent hours on the blog.
  • Major violations get coverage in two blogs--this and Save Our Stream  (intended for citizens).  We may also notify a large list of people by email, and post factual unfavorable reviews of your company on other websites.
  • After a storm, we receive a flurry of hits.  Presumably, companies are checking to see if anyone noticed their shortcuts.  Likewise, inspectors may be looking for leads.
  • In the case of companies with repeated violations, we may attempt to influence the bidding outcome for future contracts. This may be hard with the City, but it's a distinct possibility for a private project like the Edgewater reconstruction.
  • If you repeat violations, we will follow you from job to job.  Example
  • A "green image" is becoming essential for every business.  We love to poke holes in green baloney.
We do notice, respect, and reward companies who do good work

We made positive comments about Krupp Construction, Miron Construction, and several firms working at the Target site.  If you take prompt remedial action and have few future violations, we will remove or reduce negative comments on this blog.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Speedway Sand & Gravel continues violations at a new site: Segoe Rd.

Construction sites with several risk factors deserve special attention to erosion control.  Risk factors are sites with...
  1. steep slopes
  2. proximity to a waterway or lake
  3. a lot of runoff entering from above.
The water main project on Segoe Rd is located over a large stormwater conduit to Lake Mendota via Willow Creek.   Segoe Rd. esentially follows a buried creek.  Located in a low point, much stormwater is funneled to this construction site from higher up on Segoe, and from side streets all along Segoe.  So it has two of the three risk factors.

Speedway Sand and Gravel (plus City engineers designing projects) continue to treat these risky sites with disinterest and neglect.

Speedway at work (Segoe & St. Croix, 9/9 11:11 am)

Given the risk factors, this site deserved speedy completion.  Yet progress has been slow.

So, during the heavy rains of 9/2 and 9/3, when it rained about an inch each day, it wasn't surprising that Segoe Rd flooded.

The most serious problem was the stormwater inlets located within the median of Segoe Rd.  Most of the median is slightly concave, to serve as a channel for stormwater on the surface.  And much of it was devoid of grass cover.  So when it rained, great quantities of sediment washed down Segoe and towards the 19 inlets on the median.

Amazingly, none of these inlets had filters, and most had inadequate rings of silt sock around them.  Several had no protection whatsoever--a complete lapse.  While 5 of the median inlets seemed well-enough protected by silt socks, socks on the other 14 failed.  Some of the inlets were so buried in detritus and mud that Sherlock had to dig to find the inlets.
Stormwater inlet on median--buried in sediment
Since there were no dams or silt socks across the median to slow the floodwaters, the sediment became progressively worse further downhill along Segoe.  Meandering channels were carved into the freshly seeded median, and much sediment was dumped into the street gutters, where it clogged nearly all of the street stormwater inlets.  Clogged inlets caused water and sediment to flow further downhill beyond the site.
By Sept. 7, none of the blocked inlets had been maintained, cleaned, or corrected.   Inspection and maintenance is required within 24 hours.

Inspection reports could not be found on the City website.

Additional faults

The streets were very dirty.  Residents were angry about the dust, having to keep their windows closed.  There was evidence of sweeping with a bobcat on 9/7, but the sweeping was spotty and ineffective.   Concrete wastewater, plus dust control chemicals had been spilled on the street. 

Piles of gravel and dirt had no silt socks around them.  A few gravel check dams were made of unwashed gravel and appeared ineffective. 

Wastewater from concrete was dumped in several places.  It's highly alkaline, and can kill everything in the soil nearby.  More.

Due to sloppy back fill of excavations on the terraces, plus the rain, holes developed along the edge of the sidewalk in about 5 places.  Residents were concerned about pedestrian safety, and so were filling the holes themselves.

The whole construction area had a seedy, neglected, and dirty appearance. 

Mixed reviews for basins as a control measure

This site seems to have relied partly on the numerous holes in the pavement--which could act as temporary retention basins, confining water and sediment.  These holes in the pavement were not part of the erosion control plan--so perhaps they were just a happy coincidence.  Nevertheless, they weren't sufficient due to the large amount of stormwater entering from beyond the site.  Hence many of them probably overflowed, limiting their effectiveness.

See photos from 9/6 and 9/7.

Photos of 19 median stormwater inlets.  Only 5 of 19 did not fail--that is, receive significant sediment.

Update: City officials responsible for this site

Apparently Madison Water Utility was responsible, since this was a water main replacement (plus resurfacing and stormwater inlet replacement).

Permit authority: Tim Troester
(608) 267-1995

Permittee: Madison Water Utility
Adam Wiederhoeft

Inspector: Harley Lemkuil  See reports

Speedway Staff responsible
Todd Timmerman (608) 575-1499
Josh Stieve (608) 836-1071