Schoharie County faces time pressures on stream repairs
SCHOHARIE COUNTY About $5.5 million in stream reconstruction work commissioned Friday will include stabilizing a mountainside that’s threatening a road and a pressurized gas pipeline in Schoharie County.
But changes in the details for $15 million worth of other stream projects planned after tropical storms Irene and Lee are butting the county up against a Jan. 21 deadline to complete all the work.
The effort is part of New York state’s biggest Emergency Watershed Protection Program effort funded by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.
County supervisors accepted bids for three projects: two jobs focusing on a creek off Dave Brown Mountain Road in Blenheim and the other to rebuild nearly two miles of the Line Creek between Fulton and Middleburgh.
The board agreed to pay Hubbell Inc. $4,187,426.91 to reconstruct 10,400 feet of the Line Creek that wiped out part of West Middleburgh Road after Tropical Storm Irene, stranding farmers and residents.
Tetra Tech Construction Inc. won a contract with its bid of $1,268,751.35 to shore up the slope that failed off Dave Brown Mountain Road, sending part of the road, debris and mountainside cascading 55 feet down to an unnamed tributary that leads to state Route 30 then to Schoharie Creek.
Tetra Tech’s work will also include strengthening the stream channel in an effort to avoid damage to Enterprise Products Partners’ 8-inch pressurized propane pipeline, which was exposed more than once in other places during the 2011 storms.
Irene and Lee flood waters unearthed the pipeline in the West Kill Creek and Schoharie Creek, both in Blenheim, leading the pipeline company to replant the steel pipe about 50 feet beneath the waterways.
Despite the contract awards, administrative and time-related issues are still looming, according to Pete Nichols, stream program manager for the Schoharie County Soil and Water Conservation District.
The county was approved for funding for $21.15 million in stream repairs but Nichols said both landowner agreements and permits lag behind.
The work will impact approximately 80 landowners but only 55 of them have signed agreements to allow the work. These agreements are necessary for the work to proceed, as are permits from the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
Projects for the other roughly $15 million worth of work had changes in their details that alter project descriptions and stall the permit process.
“Obviously, we’re pressing it a little bit,” Nichols said.
The other projects planned include elevating the bed of the Platter Kill near Flat Creek Road in Gilboa and streambed elevations along the Little Schoharie Creek.
County Planning Director Alicia Terry said input from both landowners and regulating agencies will require revising the Little Schoharie Creek and Platter Kill projects.
Agreements needed from landowners include not only permission for contractors to enter their land to do the work, but also permission for the county to return over a 10-year period for maintenance.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in one instance, is asking for more strength in one stretch of work aimed at preventing water from moving outside of its proper channel.
Terry said there is hope the NRCS will approve an extension so the work can be completed beyond the Jan. 21, 2014, deadline.