ayments for police details and overtime for Department of Public Works (DPW) watches are nearing $400,000 this week at the Winthrop Avenue sewer project that seems to be dormant and stalled.
City records revealed that – as of Jan. 15 – police detail payments to monitor the stalled project (where there is currently no work that appears to be underway) are estimated at $250,000.
Meanwhile, overtime payments to DPW workers on watch at the site (which is in front of the Little League field) were $131,746 by Jan. 15.
All together, police and DPW payments to oversee the stalled project are at $381,746.
“We station personnel at the pumps to keep them operational (freezing, fuel for pumps, technical problems with pumps etc.) while significant sewer flows, almost 10 percent of the city, are being pumped through them,” wrote Mayor Dan Rizzo in an e-mail to the Journal. “Problems with these pumps would create a major issue for the City and surrounding neighborhoods and no doubt would result in raw sewage backing up into people’s homes and/or Winthrop Ave. As much as I would like to save the money, I cannot allow for that possibility.
“In terms of police details, the staffing of police at the site is a public safety decision made by the Police Department and the city,” he continued. “The police details have helped us with construction activities and with the protection of pumps/equipment. This has been no small undertaking, and obviously no easy fix. If there is any consolation, albeit very little, the additional costs in overtime we have to absorb will be covered under our [State Revolving] Loan Program. I appreciate all of the patience that we’ve received from the neighbors in that area and from our residents around the city. I can assure them that I am actively engaged in this process and doing everything I can to bring this project to completion as quickly as possible.”
The City did receive a $2 million, low-interest emergency loan from the state Revolving Loan Fund to make the repairs and pay for costs such as details.
The Revere Police Department on Tuesday said it had scaled back its details recently due to the downtime in the project.
“The details are requested by the DPW,” said Lt. Amy O’Hara. “They’ve been there and I know the details have been scaled back a bit recently. The department has taken it upon itself to scale back from two officers to one officer. I guess there are things that were supposed to happen and then haven’t happened.”
The problem with the sewer pipe surfaced on Labor Day weekend when it was discovered that the pipe had collapsed and need to be temporarily re-routed above ground.
Police details – sometimes two or three officers at a time – were assigned and so were DPW watches as crews began to investigate the problem.
The results of that investigation were not too heartening, with Mayor Dan Rizzo delivering grim news to City Councillors in September that the fix would be costly, inconvenient to neighbors and several months long.
Work was supposed to have started in October and last three months.
Buses were to be re-routed and so was traffic.
The street was to be closed as well.
Some crews did begin working on the project – which ran from Victoria Street to the Parkway – in the fall. However, then things seemed to stop and never start again.
The details and watches, however, continued on in large part to make sure the temporary pumping mechanism stayed safe amidst the busy road.
Mayor Dan Rizzo said a lot has been going on that people may not be seeing, and that the replacement of the collapse will begin imminently.
“This has not been easy,” he wrote. “These complexities I talked about include extensive coordination, planning, permitting, reviews, and approvals from a multitude of state agencies such as MassDEP, MassDOT, DCR, MBTA, amongst others in order to receive these technical approvals and the corresponding funding necessary to complete these repairs. Most of these reviews are substantially complete and the final details of emergency funding…are currently being resolved…”
Rizzo said several hundred feet of pipe have been lined and will be finished this Friday. Before the collapse can be excavated and fixed, two major water mains have to be shut off and temporarily relocated.
“The temporary shut down of the MWRA water bypass will begin any day now and should take approximately one week to complete,” he said. “At that time excavation for the sewer repair will begin in earnest. We expect that work to take approximately six to eight weeks to complete.”