Last updateWed, 18 Oct 2017 10am


Contaminated soil delays streetscape work

Photo By: Ellie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Photo Ellie Van Houtte/ Town Crier

Although contaminated soil delayed the San Antonio streetscape project, work to broaden the sidewalks behind Parking Plaza 3 is nearly complete.

San Antonio Road streetscape construction will last longer than anticipated, according to the city official overseeing the project.

Los Altos Public Works Director Jim Gustafson told the Town Crier last week that the project – which began in January and was originally slated for completion in early April – will not be finished until late May or early June. Gustafson pointed to the discovery of contaminated soil as the primary source of delays with the project, which officials initially said would take approximately 90 days to complete.

“This is a work in progress,” Gustafson said. “(Construction crews) have encountered a couple of different conditions there.”

The delay comes after city engineers sought and received an additional $118,000 appropriation for the project, primarily to dispose of lead-tainted soil found in at least three of four tested areas within the project’s boundaries. Test samples of those areas showed contamination levels at 3-38 milligrams per liter. According to a staff report, lead contamination is considered a public health risk at 400 milligrams per liter.

The contaminated soil required the use of a licensed hazardous waste landfill in the Central Valley at a cost of $116 per ton, compared with the $3 per ton originally earmarked for clean dirt disposal at a local landfill. Supplemental funds were required to test more than a dozen additional locations within the project.

City staff estimated that a worst-case scenario would require disposal of approximately 1,366 tons of contaminated soil if all designated sites tested positive. Gustafson added that the pause to conduct testing and other logistics related to the contaminated soil contributed to the delay.

“We’ve probably lost at least three to four weeks due to the contaminated soil issue,” said Gustafson, who noted that at least half of the additional sites tested positive for contamination.

He added that tainted soil issues are not the only reason for the project’s delay. The engineers had to make minor design adjustments to sidewalk curb ramps to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements. Gustafson pointed specifically to one location – a ramp at San Antonio Road and the entrance to public Parking Plaza 3 behind the Italian Delicatessen – in need of design adjustments for wheelchair accessibility.

Despite the ongoing work associated with the contaminated soil and the construction of ADA-compliant ramps, Gustafson said the project has progressed, noting that most of the work to widen the sidewalk along San Antonio and Plaza 3 is complete.

As of last week, construction crews focused on relocating a storm drain system and installing a rain garden and irrigation system in the median islands, which required temporary lane closures during noncommuting hours.

For weekly construction updates on the San Antonio Road streetscape, visit www.sanantonioroad.org.

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