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Council will vote on contract for water pump

Charleston City Council will vote on a contract that could help alleviate a major headache for drivers moving along Court Street during heavy rainstorms.

The Court Street underpass often floods during periods of heavy rain due to a malfunctioning pump that siphons water from the low spot into the city's storm water system, said Tony Fish, assistant city engineer.

Public Works Director Gary Taylor estimates the underpass, which allows motorists to cross under Interstate 77/64 to Piedmont Avenue, closes about six times a year because of water pooling in the low spot.

"Court Street is a major artery through the city, and we want to keep it open as much as possible," Taylor said.

"That underpass fills up with water pretty quickly," Fish said.  

The pump that typically removes the water from the low spot failed around Thanksgiving, Fish said.

It malfunctioned because of a combined failure of the power supply system and the control system, he said.

"It's 1970s technology, and it's outlived its design life," Fish said.

Fields Excavating Inc. of Kitts Hill, Ohio, submitted the low bid of $472,500, he said. Six companies submitted bids.

"Fields Excavating was the only bid under a half million dollars," Fish said.

Taylor acknowledged that the project was expensive but said it had to be done.

The city is currently using a portable pump to remove the water, Taylor said. However, there also have been problems with the portable pump, Fish said.

"There have been some issues with the starter on the temporary pump," he said.

The portable pump is rented for $2,500 a month, Taylor said.  

The company is replacing the pump and the 1970s electrical system, Fish said. A backup pump will also be installed in case the primary device is knocked offline by a power outage or mechanical problem, he said.

The backup pump will have an automatic starter system that will engage if the other pump shuts down, Fish said. The backup pump will be powered by diesel fuel.

The company has six months from the time the contract is signed to finish the project, he said. Court Street should remain open while the project is under way.

Most of the money for the project will come from the city's allocation of federal Community Development Block Grant funds, said Brian King, director of the Mayor's Office of Economic and Community Development.

The office is providing about $359,000 in federal dollars toward the project. The remaining money will come from the city's general fund, Fish said.

Council will vote on the contract during a regularly scheduled meeting at 7 p.m. Monday in City Hall.

Council also will vote on whether to accept $5,000 from the state Department of Education and the Arts to fund the mural project on piers under Interstate 64 along Virginia Street.

The 12 interstate piers will be painted with murals depicting West Virginia history in honor of the state's 150th birthday, Assistant Mayor Rod Blackstone said.     

Contact writer Paul Fallonat or 304-348-4817.     Follow him at ;  



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