Buckley paving project on hold until spring

By Jessica Keller, The Courier-Herald

Buckley's Ryan Road water main replacement is complete, but the repaving of the project will not take place until late spring.

Buckley City Administrator Dave Schmidt announced at the Feb. 10 City Council meeting, the city has decided to terminate its contract with AA Excavating early, before the company repaved the section of Ryan Road affected by the project.

The project to replace 4,400 feet of water main began in November of last year, but numerous setbacks, including weather and more extensive road cuts than expected, delayed the project.

AA Excavating made the final touches to the water main last week.

But instead of allowing the company to continue with repaving the road, Schmidt said, the contract with AA Excavating was terminated. The reason, Schmidt said, was because the work still needing to be done exceeds the original plan.

Schmidt said prior to making cuts into the road, the city thought the old water main was closer to the side of the road than it really was. AA Excavating had to cut into more of the roadway than anticipated. In addition, logging trucks traveling on the road destroyed the road almost to the centerline in many places, which almost doubles the amount of asphalt and crushed rock needed.

"We had talked about this for a long time," Schmidt said.

At a previous meeting, Mayor John Blanusa expressed concern about repaving just half of the road. Schmidt said, the city will now repave the full road.

Over the past few months, the road has degraded enough to convince city officials to overlay the entire road in the affected areas.

The Ryan Road water main project was funded in part by an Environmental Protection Agency grant. The city had feared doing a full road overlay would jeopardize grant dollars, but the EPA will still pay for a portion of the overlay cost. Schmidt said the entire overlay project is estimated to cost $150,000 to $170,000, with EPA paying about $62,000.

The new Ryan Road overlay project will be combined with a similar project for Collins Road. The city is expected to go out for bid on the two projects in April and repaving could take place in May or June. Until then, city staff will be responsible for maintaining the road and the shoulders, but Schmidt said that won't be too difficult, because the gravel and rock already in place will compact and harden as more vehicles drive over the road.

On another matter during the Feb. 10 Council meeting, order disintegrated briefly as Buckley citizen Marvin Sundstrom and Rev. Jim Thune of The Mustard Seed Church exchanged barbs about the treatment of livestock on Thune's church-run property on Ryan Road. Sundstrom first addressed the topic during the "citizen participation" portion of the night's agenda. Mayor Blanusa then asked if anybody wanted to rebut what Sundstrom had to say and Thune responded. Order was eventually restored by the mayor, and Thune, who was not on the original agenda, was allowed to speak after the council made a motion to include him, provided he limited his comments to only the council and the mayor.

Jessica Keller can be reached at

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