Multiple breaks in the water pipeline running along Westover Road make improvements in the pipeline a priority project for the city of Gillette.
In the last four years, the pipe broke five times along a half-mile stretch of Westover Road between Skyline Drive and west of White's Energy Motors. The city attributes those breaks to poor installation 33 years ago. The 12-inch pipe was installed in 1979 by the same developer who developed Westover Hills.
"As we did our diagnostics on the break, we found several things along the way," said Kendall Glover, city of Gillette utilities director. "We sent off samples to make sure that manufacturing wasn't an error and each time we found a flaw, we've done more research. It all pointed back to one consistent thing and that is the installation method for 33 years ago.
"Unfortunately right now, there is nothing that says we believe we fixed the problem and we won't have anymore breaks," Glover said. "I do feel that it's imminent that we are going to continue to have breaks if the true problem with this was the installation."
The utilities and engineering departments suggest building the project in phases. The first phase would be from the intersection of Skyline and Westover to the intersection of Westover and Westhills Loop. The second phase would be from the intersection of Westover and Westhills Loop to Pump Station 2 in the Foothills area and have to go under Interstate 90 and railroad tracks to get there.
The city plans to design both phases and bid the first phase and include the second phase as an alternative. In that case, the city can build the whole project if it gets good prices. If the prices are high, then the city will just build phase one.
Based on today's prices per foot, the preliminary construction estimate for phase one is $2.2 million. The entire project would be $3.1 million.
Replacing 7,300 linear feet of the old pipe with the new 16-inch pipe (to handle increased volumes) would save the city the money that would be spent on future repair works. Each repair in the past cost the city about $75,000 each.
"Obviously, the big question on everybody's mind is how we are going to fund this," said Mayor Tom Murphy at the city's work session Monday.
The city's current budget doesn't include money for the project. But the utilities department wants to begin the design and the cost estimate before the city goes into budgeting in the summer. The department wants to begin construction as soon as July 1, Glover said.
To allocate money for the design of the project, the city will consider amendments to its current budget at its regular meeting Monday.
"We desperately need the Westover project," said Councilman Ted Jerred. "We have to hope, too, we don't have another break between now and the time (it's replaced)."
City Administrator Carter Napier said at this point the design would be paid for by money from the 1 percent sales tax.
Project construction also likely will be paid for with money from the 1 percent sales tax which the city of Gillette uses to pay for road construction, water and sewer lines, electrical services, drainage improvements and the waste water treatment facility.