OTTUMWA — The City of Ottumwa will be replacing pavers at intersections and other designed crosswalk areas.

During Tuesday's city council meeting, director of public works Larry Seals recommended the council vote to remove permeable pavers that have settled and created a bumpy ride along Main Street, and instead use a cement concrete to fill in the areas at intersections and mid-block areas. The pavers were installed as part of the $5 million Streetscape project, which was completed last fall.

The council voted 4-0 to proceed.

The work, he said, would continue to fall under a contract with Portzen. The settling of the pavers was neither the fault of the contractor nor the city, but rather defective designs and specifications of the soil involved that the state has since addressed.

"Local jurisdictions have the authority to override the standards we use statewide to make it uniform for contractors to understand their bidding products are the same throughout the state," Seals said. "Most of these things are done over decades, and projects like this that aren't successful are considered and the standards are changed."

Seals said the city wouldn't let the red-colored pavers go to waste, as they would be used in another area "so we will retain that value," he said.

And, he said, the work could start as soon as Monday. Because the liability was in the designs and specifications, Seals said there will not be a reduction in the grant funding.

Ottumwa is not the only city that has had problems. Though no other cities were specifically cited, it was a problem the state was aware of.

"It just seems kind of odd that if they had that experience and the state saw that, and it's out there for a while ...," councilman Matt Dalbey said. "...it just seems unfortunate that we have to be the final community to make that mistake before they actually go in and change their specs. I know it's not a fast process, but it's just an unfortunate incident that happened."

Councilman Bob Meyers said a few years ago public works expressed skepticism about the specs.

"In fact, I think maybe they took a little heat over the fact they were willing to suggest that they had reservations about doing it that way," he said. "So I think it comes back to sometimes we need to listen to our own people better and get their rationale."

Seals did not have a precise figure on what it would cost the city to replace the pavers, as the department was still in negotiations with the contractor over that number.

"If I just use the pavement removal, the plain PCC and the colored PCC, it's probably around $105,000," he said. "The original amount of funding was $5,999,465, and we'll have to look at that. There's a little bit of money left and we'll see where we're at."

— Chad Drury can be reached at cdrury@ottumwacourier.com, and on Twitter @ChadDrury

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