EPWater adds contractor to Eastside project

EPWater adds contractor to Eastside project
Posted on 07/16/2021
Construction at Sam Snead

As part of the emergency declaration of the stormwater system approved by the Public Service Board (PSB) on July 14, residents near the Sam Snead Recovery project in the Pico Norte area will soon see accelerated productivity on the job site.

The emergency declaration comes after storms caused flash flooding in many areas of El Paso, damaging streets and infrastructure -- including the multi-year stormwater project along Sam Snead Drive. The declaration allows EPWater to hire more help and expedite completion of the project that has faced repeated challenges and delays.

Sam Snead Drive was originally designed by the city to collect stormwater from the larger surrounding area, but the sheer volume of the water causes streets to become overwhelmed. A 2014 rain event resulted in cars and trash bins getting washed into the Pico Norte Pond, illustrating the urgency for improvements. This event – coupled with new evaluation data – catapulted the project to the top of the stormwater priority list of needs to increase public safety and protect homes and businesses in East El Paso.

The storm water improvements for the Pico Norte area were planned to be designed and implemented in multiple phases.  In Phase 1 of the improvements, $1.9 million was invested in excavating the Pico Norte Pond. Currently in Phase 2, EPWater is adding an additional $8.4 million to install underground drainage and increase stormwater capacity.  Future improvements are currently planned for this area.

Construction this phase includes a new 10-foot by 6-foot box culvert drainage structure under Sam Snead Drive from the Pico Norte Pond to Lee Trevino Drive. Drop inlets are being installed in the center of the road to allow stormwater to drain from the street straight into the underground system. Once complete, the underground system will have the potential to send more than 350,000 gallons per minute of stormwater to the Pico Norte Pond.

Project delays

Constructon at Sam SneadEPWater’s Chief Technical Officer Gilbert Trejo explains that several unexpected weather events caused water main breaks and damage to the construction site. Additionally, conflicting utility line issues, unanticipated soil conditions and the pandemic all contributed to the more than 6-month delay.

During a recent community meeting called by El Paso City Representative Cassandra Hernandez, EPWater listened to concerns of neighbors who were vocal about how the project has affected residents’ daily lives.

Advocating for increased project accountability and communication, Hernandez also addressed the PSB on July 14. “I’m asking for additional support and accountability on behalf of this community,” said Hernandez.

Plan of Action

At both the community and PSB meetings, EPWater pledged to increase its on-site presence, contractor accountability and communication.

EPWater is hiring a new contractor, Jordan Foster Construction that will bring multiple teams and work with EPWater and the current contractor, Danny Sanders Construction Inc. as soon as July 19. The additional resources and collaboration will result in an expedited timeline for project completion. Jordan Foster will also work closely with EPWater’s Public Affairs team to ensure the most up-to-date project information is shared with residents. The utility committed to holding monthly community meetings and sending regular newsletters to provide residents with updates on the project.

“EPWater is committed to getting this project back on track,” says Trejo. “The emergency declaration allows us to bring on the extra manpower and resources needed to get the job done.”

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