On August 9, 2023

Hartland intersection redo hits design snag

 

By Curt Peterson

Four members of the Hartland Select Board grilled Daniel Peck, project manager for Vanasse Hangen Brustlin (VHB) engineers, regarding three expensive glitches discovered during the now-notorious $1.5 million intersection reconfiguration in Hartland Three Corners.

Board Chair Phil Hobbie outlined the issues, including failure to provide replacement street lighting in the project plans, failure to contemplate a layer of highway concrete under a proposed tree-planting area, and some drainage design issues the board feels should have been obvious.

“These are expensive issues,” Hobbie said, “and we need to resolve them so our taxpayers aren’t penalized for any engineering design errors.”

Design plans called for removing two light-bearing utility poles as part of installing underground utilities, but no consideration was given in the plans for replacing the lighting.  Hobbie said the cost of rectifying the mistake will be between $75,000 and $100,000.

The green area meant to be where the “triangle” was between Routes 12 and 5 to receive tree plantings that would require at least 24” of clean soil for their roots. Apparently VHB didn’t contemplate the cost of removing 5” of highway concrete so the trees could be planted. Hobbie said the cost of this glitch will be $25,000.

There is no cost estimate for correcting a design flaw that causes “pooling” of rainwater where the new and old sidewalks meet, a problem that the Select Board also considers a VHB failure.

Hobbie asked Peck question after question, laying the groundwork for the town’s opinion that VHB should be responsible for rectification.

“None of us are engineers,” Hobbie said to Peck. “We relied on VHB to provide the expertise that should have prevented these problems.”

Selectman Tom Kennedy said he’s known David Saladino, the managing director of VHB’s division that is involved in the Hartland project, for years, and feels “Saladino should call our board chair and find the solution to these problems.”

The cost of the lighting issue will be mitigated by a suggestion from GPI, the on-site engineers for the project, Hobbie said. The necessary wiring for any new lights will be buried with the other utilities, and can be accessed without re-excavating to place them underground. There are also lighting design suggestions, all of which will require state approval before they can be installed.

Asked if he thinks any or all of these issues might cause a delay in completing the reconfiguration project, Hobbie said, “No.”

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