How Fairfield will spend $14.5M on big projects in 2019

This stretch of Seward Road will have a new water main installed in 2019, a project that was accelerated by two years because of the number of water main breaks the city’s had to repair in the past four years. MICHAEL D. PITMAN/FILE
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This stretch of Seward Road will have a new water main installed in 2019, a project that was accelerated by two years because of the number of water main breaks the city’s had to repair in the past four years. MICHAEL D. PITMAN/FILE

Fairfield is planning on more than 10 dozen projects this year — some of which have already been started — costing taxpayers nearly $14.5 million.

Those include big-dollar undertakings, like water main replacements, and annual projects, such as street paving, curb replacement, sidewalk replacement program and replacing computer hardware, said City Manager Mark Wendling.

City staff presented the 2019-23 capital improvement program plan, which featured 124 projects in 2019. The CIP is a five-year plan that outlines projects scheduled to be done in the current year and the subsequent four years.

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“It really represents that long-term financial plan, and kind of blueprint, for the city to maintain, improve and keep up with its infrastructure,” said Fairfield Finance Director Scott Timmer.

Approximately 73 percent of the projects from 2019 to 2023 will be funded by the city, and 11 percent will be financed with new debt. The balance of the funding is projected to be provided by outside sources, such as grants.

“And our debt load is fairly nominal compared to most cities our size, so we’re really in good shape,” Wendling said.

The city’s debt load is around $17 million, he said.

Eight of the 124 projects are critical to avoiding possible emergencies, and nearly half are labeled as “major,” or large in scope.

This year is “another aggressive year” for the city’s water division, said Public Utilities Director Adam Sackenheim.

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Public Utilities will eventually ask for $5 million for 42 total water and wastewater projects, with the majority of the funding requests — $3.3 million — going toward water projects, said Public Utilities Director Adam Sackenheim.

“One of the things we look at for all of our projects, especially for waterline replacement and sewer line replacement projects, is a matrix looking at the likelihood of failure of an asset and the consequence of failure, and that’s really how we rank and prioritize these projects,” he said.

One of those 2019 projects wasn’t planned for this year just a month ago, but after another water main break caused hundreds of gallons of water to be released, Sackenheim “accelerated” that project by two years. In the past four years, Seward Road experienced 17 water main breaks, 10 of which have happened in the past six months.

“This area is becoming very problematic for us. What it’s doing, is when we have main breaks in this area, we are interrupting services to Pacific Manufacturing, to Western States (Machine Company) and to some other critical commercial and industrial customers,” Sackenheim said.

He said the pipes had seen breaks, and fist-sized holes in the pipe dug up on March 13, because of the acidic soil of the area. He also thinks the city installed “bad pipe” 35 years ago.

Replacing part of the Seward Road waterline pipe will cost an estimated $750,000.

The other major projects for the city this year include spending roughly $1.25 million on a pair of waterline projects, one of which is along Mack and Ross roads. The other is on Donald Drive that’s set to start once school lets out.

The projects will be followed by paving projects headed by the Public Works Department. The Mack and Ross roads area will be repaved this year, and Donald Drive will be repaved in 2020.

The city will spend around $1.9 million in its annual paving project, and Public Works will contract the project out for paving close to 24 lane miles around the city.

The city will spend another $375,000 to repair sidewalks and driveway aprons, but much of that money will be repaid to the city by property owners who are responsible for those repairs.

There will be work done on three bridge projects, two on Resor Road and one on Winton Road, which will cost about $480,000. The two bridges on Resor Road are nearly identical and were built in the 1970s, but City Engineer Ben Mann said the upgrades to the fascia — which is starting to deteriorate — would help get another 25 years of life.

He said that “isn’t a risk to traffic, but it’s going to compromise what holds the guardrail on. They’re perfectly fine to drive over the middle, but we want the guardrail to be able to take a hit and prolong their life.”

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