A Lesson in Incompetence: Mill Woods Double Barrel Drainage Project
This past Friday, City Council finally received answers to a very long standing issue. This issue has been a thorn in the side of virtually everyone in Mill Woods – the Mill Woods Double Barrel Trunk Sewer Upgrade. For the historical record, I have been asking for this information for 2 years now. You can now view the report online at www.edmonton.ca by choosing the City Government tab, then Council and Committee Meetings, Utility Committee Agendas, and finally February 26, 2016. The report is item 6.1 on the agenda.
Originally conceived to provide flood relief for over 400 homes along 91 Street from 85 Avenue to 23 Avenue, this line has come under fire for numerous reasons–the original budget of 40 million dollars has now ballooned to a budget of over 90 million dollars, roughly a 135% increase. Conceptual design started as long ago as 2006 and construction began in early 2013. At the heart of the cost overruns and time delay issues are the City’s consulting engineers. These consulting engineers are supposed to be experts who advise City Council on complex construction matters. Our consultant engineers for this project have failed to accurately account for sandy soil conditions, which in turn gave Council an unrealistic estimate as to the time and work that would be required to complete this project. On the Administrations side they failed to keep track of this project with its associated cost overruns and other risks which failed to keep Council informed about this red line project.
At each critical stage it has been made clear to me that our consulting engineers failed us. Be it the 2006 conceptual designs, the 2007 geo-technical analysis on ground conditions or the 2016 time lines that are required to complete the project, each of these had their own issues. The chart below gives Administrations best estimate as to the project’s completion:
|30 Avenue Sewer Work Complete|
|85 Street Excluding surface restoration August 2016|
|23 Avenue Excluding surface restoration December 2016|
|91Street Convert existing double into full January 2017|
|Sanitary sewer March 2017|
|Site and surface restoration||August 2017|
We are all frustrated at what has happened. No one has to look further than the boondoggle that is 23 Avenue West bound which is reduced to one lane. Yet when one looks to 85 Street and 23 Avenue they find another mess–having become a one way street for the past several years, and yes they will be working on it again this summer almost trapping the entire neighborhood of Satoo. Once again the Administration promises to do better – yet for me that is not what is the issue here. For me, it was the consulting engineers that need to be held to account for their failures which have caused us all this grief, time, and money.
Sometimes it is not all the City’s fault – and this to me is the case that exemplifies that point.