KIMBALL, Tenn.-As workers were preparing for the most difficult part of a $139,000 sewer repair project along U.S. Highway 64 last week, they ran into major problems, officials said.
Anthony Pelham, an engineer with James C. Hailey & Co., said complications arose when workers hit solid rock as they were preparing to bore a hole.
"When we dug down and saw that [rock], it negated the possibility of doing the bore," he said. "Then, it posed another problem. There was actually sewage that was escaping the pit where the existing line was. All we ever saw was a very small volume, but it was leaking out. That was reported and necessitated a repair."
Pelham said a water line was "pulled apart" during the excavation, which cut off water service to customers in Kimball for several hours last week.
Kimball Mayor David Jackson said the city campus of Chattanooga State Community College had to cancel some classes because of the water line problems.
Both problems required immediate emergency repairs, officials said.
"In this circumstance, I have to defend [Pelham and Maintenance Department Supervisor Mike Nelson]," Alderman Mark Payne said. "It was the contractor's fault, and it wasn't the engineer's fault. It was the fault of the people who put in [the water and sewer lines] before. It wasn't done right, and it's an absolute shame."
Pelham praised Henley Construction of Sewanee, Tenn., for the work it did in fixing the problems.
"[The problems were] not this board's creation," he said. "It was not anything we could have foreseen. They worked through it, and in my opinion, the contractor did a bang-up job."
Officials said Henley Construction personnel worked from 5:30 p.m. CDT until around midnight CDT to complete the repairs, not even stopping for a dinner break.
"They had a tough situation to work with," Payne said. "They worked nonstop."
Pelham said he estimates the extra costs for the problems will be around $5,000 to $10,000, but he won't have "solid numbers" until the next meeting of the Kimball Board of Mayor and Aldermen on Oct. 6.
The board voted to allow Jackson to approve change orders for the additional work up to the original cost of the contract, so the contractor could be paid in a timely manner.
"That's life," Alderman Jerry Don Case said. "Sometimes it's not easy. I thought everybody did a good job, though."
Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.