Kyle OK’s spending up to $50K to replace old culvert

The discovery of a damaged drainage culvert underneath a section of Kyle’s Bunton Creek Road improvement project is forcing city leaders to immediately spend up to $50,000 to fix the problem.

Officials are now scrambling to fix the damaged culvert prior to finishing the Bunton Creek Road project, which is projected to be completed before the start of the 2017 Hays CISD school year.

Leon Barba, Kyle city engineer, said during an emergency meeting the problem involves a culvert along Bunton Creek Road near Brandi Circle. On Monday, engineering department staff, including Harper Wilder, Kyle Public Works director, and Joanne Garcia, Kyle Project Manager, checked on a headwall, or the opening, of the culvert, which they felt was going to be too close to the roadway.

While there were no issues with the headwall, Barba said the three looked inside of the of the drainage pipe and discovered it had been crushed in the middle. Barba said it’s unknown if construction on Bunton Creek Road led to the deformity of the pipe.

However, city officials learned the pipe may be more than 40 years old. Jimmy Haverda, a local historian and former city employee, said there was an existing road in the area in the early 1970s, Barba said. When the decision was made to widen that section of road, “someone decided the best way to widen the road was to leave the pipe there and place additional pipe to widen it.”

Barba said staff was concerned about the possibility of the culvert failing when the city completes spot repairs and overlays asphalt; those projects were the scope of work that was to be done on that section of road.

Traffic on Bunton Creek Road includes loaded 18-wheelers, along with Hays CISD school buses.

“These pipes have a 20-year design life, and I’ve seen pipes at 20 years, they’ve failed, but I’ve also seen them last,” Barba said. “But that pipe that was there before doesn’t look like it’s in good condition.”

Shane Arabie, Kyle City Council member, District 3, said he believed work crews should have checked on the stability of the road, regardless if it was a spot repair or overlaying new asphalt.

Barba said he was confident if a contractor had seen any issues, they would have brought it to officials’ attention.

“Some will say, ‘why didn’t they check this drainage pipe?,’” Barba said. “Well, it wasn’t in their scope of work to do a drainage analysis, either.”

Arabie felt someone “should have stuck their head in” the pipe beforehand. His fears extended to potentially digging up a finished product to repair a problem that could have been avoided beforehand.

“This shouldn’t be an emergency expenditure. This should have been at the beginning of the project,” Arabie said.

Kyle Mayor Todd Webster said the Kyle City Council is also the checks and balance for contracted companies, and that he wasn’t sure where the miss occurred.

The emergency fix raises concerns about the whole project, Webster said, and added the city may “go back and take a harder look at everything that was assumed.”

The city plans to take out the affected culvert within five days and replace it with a 42-inch concrete pipe. Barba said the city plans to pave the final coat of asphalt by Aug. 21, with striping taking place Aug. 25.

The first day of classes in Hays CISD is Aug. 28.

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