Buckley finds trouble with road project

It has become clear to workers that Buckley’s “Disfunction Junction” realignment project – an ornery triangle of city streets, county roads and state Route 410 – has taken on a life of its own.

This vehicular no man’s land does not cotton to folks digging, drilling or generally rearranging things and is doing everything in its power to thwart the construction personnel involved.

Causing grief for the city of Buckley and various contractors has been a century-old wooden water transmission pipe that materialized along 112 Street East and a 42-inch boulder discovered directly in the path of a tunnel being bored under SR 410. The tunnel was needed to connect a storm drain line to existing pipe that sits 13 feet under the Hinkelman Extension on the north side of 410.

Phillip VanEarwage of Gray and Osborne said his crews decided to eliminate the boulder by drilling it full of holes, then pulverizing and extracting the remains.

“The huge rock was closer to the starting point of the tunnel where we first began to bore, so my guys were able to remove the remnants with a bit more ease,” VanEarwage said.

Shortly after the boulder incident, crews found a 48-inch wooden water transmission main that was installed in the 1930s and apparently belonging to Tacoma Water. Not shown on maps, it was full of water but had no pressure behind it.

“This little development stopped everything for awhile, until we could resolve whose pipe it was and figure out who was going to fund the removal of this ancient conduit,” Van Earwage said.

“When you come into these older communities, making discoveries of this nature are not all that unusual,” he added. “Some of the underground contours and manmade devices don’t show up on the existing maps. Additions that happened so long in the historical development of the area just didn’t carry over to the modern day.”

Rather than eliminate the old infrastructure, contractors simply elected to install the new pipe under the old.

With the exception of about $10,000 worth of change orders, some of which the city of Tacoma will absorb, Buckley City Administrator David Schmidt reports the realignment project is on track. The city hopes to have the project completed before the inclement winter weather appears.