Wastewater, Water, Transportation, Educational, Marketing, Private, and Landscape Projects
WSD MANHOLE REHABILITATION WASTEWATER
WATER | MANHOLE | REHABILITATION | SEWER
Staying a step ahead contractors requires utmost coordination so residents and businesses experience minimal impact.
Some of the Valley’s manholes are very old and made of bricks, and others are newer and made of concrete. No matter the material, manholes require rehabilitation, which involves sand blasting the interior, repairing metal and iron parts that degrade over time, and then recoating the interior. There are lots of pieces and parts to manhole renovation, and it’s important infrastructure work that never ends. Crews jackhammer out the concrete collar and sand blast the interior, and there’s significant dust control with water blasting. Work trucks are noisy, especially as they idle while construction repairs are underway.
YPMO has worked on manhole replacement projects for various municipalities for more than eight years, which means we have built strong relationships with engineers and contractors. Projects like this start with assessments, which require notifications to residents and businesses to advise them of crews on their properties. When construction gets underway, YPMO expertly stays ahead of construction crews so residents and businesses are advised of impacts, such as noise, dust, and traffic restrictions.
“We go out in advance and talk about the crew being in and around manholes in the general neighborhoods or on major streets,” says Anne Thompson, president.
At the beginning of each job order assignment, contractors may have 30-50 manholes to repair. They send aerial maps to YPMO that show where they will be working. “From the get-go, we start creating maps and flyers as drafts. We don’t know where specifically they’re going, and they may jump around the city over the course of a year. We always stay ahead of the contractors so they can keep residents informed with construction notices,” says Thompson.
This type of project impacts all areas, including golf courses, Kierland Commons, restaurants, shopping areas, condos, alleys, and parking lots. As such, YPMO coordinates with all types of stakeholders, such as residents, businesses, property managers, and hotels, among others.
“We’ve seen it all,” says Thompson. “One of our major responsibilities is to notify communities so they aren’t surprised and call their councilmembers.”
There are different Job Order Contracts for this type of work, and YPMO could have three job order assignments at any time. “And so, for our part, we are managing quite a few notifications to get drafted and be at-the-ready for wherever their schedule takes them,” says Maya Hall, public information coordinator. “Contractors usually give residents and businesses two weeks’ notice.”
YPMO usually notifies apartment and commercial property managers by phone or in-person a month or two in advance, even before the construction notices are sent, so they can communicate with their residents or businesses. The team learns the optimal hours that the construction teams can work; think of a hotel when you don’t want jack hammering or sand blasting late at night or too early in the morning. “Some places, like Kierland, allow contractors to work only from 9-11 am to accommodate their guests” says Hall. “Sometimes, they have crazy work restrictions. But we have to deal with the circumstances of wherever we are.”
For example, when they work with golf courses, YPMO knows slow and off seasons. Most courses have maintenance period when the course is shut down, and YPMO finds out these dates so they can help schedule work for construction crews.
With COVID, the progress meetings have been more difficult or even nonexistent. “When we were at meetings before, we would have all our folders out so we could track the schedule with our notification tasks,” says Thompson. “We would slide the map across the table and ask about traffic restrictions and detours, and find out what was really going to happen. There was a lot more we could do in-person at these meetings, and with COVID has changed a lot. We’re still there listening with our folders, but we don’t have the same opportunities to be right there and get their attention.”
City of Phoenix
Manhole rehabilitation impacts residents and businesses, so outreach is a critical element for project success.
Working in residential neighborhoods is challenging, especially when easements are overgrown and visually inspecting manholes is difficult.
“We want to make sure that people know about the project and its entirety, because you’re literally in their backyard,” says Anne Thompson, president. “They may not have any idea that the manholes were there, or why all of a sudden we would need access.”
Just because notifications are sent out doesn’t mean that the homeowner received it or remembers. When residents are surprised by the crews and call the hotline, YPMO listens and explains what’s happening so the caller is satisfied.
City of Phoenix operates the water and wastewater for Paradise Valley. When residents and business are impacted, they often respond with “not in my backyard.” It takes great patience to listen well and help the contractor get in and get out with minimal impact on the resident. “Some residents are more high maintenance than others,” says Thompson.
These are very fast-paced projects,” says Hall. “Sometimes we don’t even have a schedule—they tell us right before they go into a neighborhood. Other times, the schedules are difficult to decipher. It takes a lot of planning to make sure we’re getting the right areas out on the right times.”