The Blue Springs’ Public Works Department is 70 percent of the way through rehabilitating a portion of the 1.4 million feet of sanitary sewer pipes running through the city, according to Director of Public Works Chris Sandie. Of the 265 miles worth of pipe, the city is replacing the sections of vitrified clay installed prior to 2011.
“They work great, they last for a long time,” said Sandie. “The problem is they’re very brittle and they crack easily.”
Sandie explained the cracks in the pipes allow for water to seep into the pipes, making everything flowing through more expensive to treat.
The Public Works Department replaces sections of the clay piping each year, according to Sandie, who said the project is expected to be completed in 2025.
“We do a piece each year. We put a few hundred thousand dollars at it and work our way through it,” he said. “We haven’t done much yet this year just because the weather’s been so nasty, but we’ll catch it up.”
The city is also still in the process of making its sidewalks compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Since 2013, according to Sandie, the city has taken care of the concrete work in-house.
“We do about 60,000 feet per year,” he said. The city boasts approximately 167 miles of sidewalk.
The city runs a crew of four members but is having trouble keeping it staffed.
“Pouring concrete is hard work. We get the guy here, we get them some training and then they’re more marketable on the outside; they go find a job that pays a little more,” Sandie explained. “So we’re constantly in the process of training people.”
Crunching the numbers, Sandie said when a crew member is replaced, the city spends about two months training a new member. If three members are replaced, it’s the equivalent losing one worker for six months.
“It’s hard to keep your production numbers up when you’re doing that,” Sandie said. “The other issue is these guys not only do the sidewalks, they also do concrete replacement for utility breaks.
Sandie said the city spends approximately $250,000 on sidewalk repair, which includes the material, labor and vehicle usage.
“We’re trying to be good stewards, trying to follow the program and make things happen,” he said.