Pavement collapses on a brand new street

pavement collapse at 4th and Division pavement collapse at 4th and Division pavement collapse at 4th and Division
The heavy rain on Saturday morning has collapsed part of the pavement at 4th & Division.  Unlike the hole in the street that opened up on 6th & Division a couple weeks ago, this problem has occurred on a portion of 4th St. that was completely replaced last year.

Will the contractor be held accountable for the repair?

Update, 8 am, 07/26:

It’s worse than I thought.  The pavement has develop a large bulge along the white stripe parallel to the crosswalk, as well as along the concrete edge near the curb, right in front of First National Bank of Northfield.

pavement bulge at 4th and Division pavement bulge at 4th and Division pavement bulge at 4th and Division

Update, 11 am, 07/28:

The street was repaired yesterday, with costs born by the City. See the discussion thread. Photo below courtesy of Hayes Scriven.

Pavement repairs at 4th and Division


  1. kiffi summa said:

    Well , since the contractor, Bolton & Menk, is around City Hall all the time with their current projects, i.e. Jefferson Road reclamation, and planning services for the City of Northfield (we currently have no planning staff due to cuts, and B&M is the contractor/ consultant for those services), it should be easy enough to have them ‘johnny-on-the-spot’ !

    July 25, 2011
  2. Griff Wigley said:

    I’ve added three photos to the blog post above, as it’s worse than I thought. The pavement has develop a large bulge along the white stripe parallel to the crosswalk, as well as along the concrete edge near the curb, right in front of First National Bank of Northfield.

    July 26, 2011
  3. David R. Koenig said:


    I’ve always wondered if there were any performance metrics used in these payments that were not just time-driven.

    For example, it was common to see penalties applied for jobs completed past a deadline. Or, bonuses for completing the project early. There is some merit to this, but only if quality does not suffer.

    In order to ensure that quality does not suffer, there should be a longer-term element to payment based on performance of the work to some pre-agreed standard. So, if a road has to be resurfaced sooner than agreed to in the bid contract, the cost is partially borne by the contractor – or better, payment that had been withheld is not made.

    Also, how do we score contractors in advance? Is it only on price? Or, do we survey other communities that have used the contractors from whom we receive bids and do a quality check on them?

    Is there a database statewide that towns could use to upload performance data on contractors?

    These are multi-million dollar projects that happen year after year. I would hope the city does this kind of research and contract design, but do not know if that is the case.

    It would certainly incent contractors to do good work, not just fast work.

    July 26, 2011
  4. Karen Berg said:

    Could be a self-made speed bump to keep people from rolling through the intersection…..

    July 26, 2011
  5. Ray Cox said:

    David K, performance driven metrics are hard to implement in these situations since the contractors do not do any of the infrastructre design. For example, the engineers use gravel equivilants in all sorts of different ways. You can get 18″ of certified gravel and get it….or you can have thicker pavments and lesser amounts of gravel….or you can have lesser gravel, lesser pavement thickness, but add a membrane under it all. It gets rather complicated. And one engineer will call for reusing and compacting site soils, another engineer will require that they be hauled out and graded material be brought back in and compacted.

    But most of these projects have completion bonds of a specified time. Those can only kick in if it can be shown that the work was not performed according to the specifications. For example, if a storm pipe joint was not properly secured and blew apart, allowing soils to wash into the pipe and in turn allow the pavement to drop.

    The work is generally supposed to be observed and inspected by representatives from both the engineering firm (Bolton and Menk?) and the city as the contractor is progressing.

    July 26, 2011
  6. Griff Wigley said:

    I heard back from Sean Simonson this afternoon:

    Crews will be in tomorrow to fix the road and storm sewer structure. This will cause Fourth Street area from Grastvedt Lane to Division Street to be closed to allow for this work to occur. Please feel free to contact me with any other questions you may have.

    July 26, 2011
  7. Griff Wigley said:

    I’m guessing that the repairs might not happen today because of the rain. Would they be bumped to Thursday during Crazy Daze?

    July 27, 2011
  8. Griff Wigley said:

    I got this email from Sean Simonson this morning:


    We are on hold as of right now, repairs will not happen on Thursday due to Crazy Daze, if it gets cancelled it will likely be scheduled for Friday, but I have not finalized those plans as of yet.

    As far as paying for the repairs, the City will be responsible for the repairs. The cause of the “blowout” is not due to faulty workmanship. What happened is that when the heavy rain hit, the storm sewer system became overwhelmed by the rain. Normally the force of the moving water would cause the lid to pop off, and the pressure would be relieved, and the water would shoot out of the top of the structure and onto the road.

    On this particular structure, the lid, which weighs around 100 lbs did not pop off. Due to the extreme pressure, the water actually lifted the entire casting, which was grouted onto the structure with concrete rings, and allowed the rushing water to get between the 4” asphalt layer and the Class V gravel that is underneath it.

    The water actually made its way all the way to the north curb line near the First National Bank, where it finally blew the asphalt out against the curb, and the pressure was released. The water acted like an “air bag” underneath the asphalt, and lifted the entire roadway up, hence the mother nature made “speed bump” that is currently visible.

    I will keep you informed as to when the work will take place, but as of now I would say it will happen Friday. Please feel free to contact me with any other questions you may have.

    July 27, 2011
  9. Griff Wigley said:

    I got this update from Sean Simonson about an hour ago:

    Just received word from the contractor that they are on their way, and the repair will be done by the end of the day. We will be closing off access to the area when they arrive.

    July 27, 2011
  10. David Koenig said:

    Ray, I think you and I would both agree that just because something is hard to do doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done.

    The general idea is that when people are paid based on performance, they do a better job.

    During the run-up to the subprime crisis, those originating the loans at the core of the problem had little or no incentive to see that those loans performed well. They were paid up-front. The same is true of any job that has a “long tail”, meaning the purchaser will have an expectation of how long the job will last — 20 years with roads?

    If there is no risk to the contractor that ten years from now they will be liable for a job that was half as good as the city expected (actual life of 10 years versus 20 years), they have every incentive to cut corners in places where the inspectors might not see.

    In times of layoffs, do small towns have enough inspectors to review all of the critical inputs you list above? Does Bolten and Menk have a liability if their inspectors miss something?

    I’m just trying to get at a model that ties pay to performance.

    With projects like roads that have “long tails”, paying up-front, or giving incentives for jobs just to get done “on-time” does not meet that objective.

    August 1, 2011
  11. David Koenig said:

    Maybe the performance bonds you cite above do this? Can you tell us a bit more about how those work and their time frame or window?

    August 1, 2011

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