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Ferry school slip repair hits snag

T-L Photo/ROBERT A. DEFRANK Martins Ferry City School Board members Chuck Probst, left, and Bill Suto hear news of increased cost of slip repair on the district campus Tuesday. The price of repairs has increased more than $200,000.

MARTINS FERRY — Slip repairs will be more complex and more costly than expected at Martins Ferry City School District.

There are two hillside slips, one located behind the elementary school and one behind the bus garage. Superintendent Jim Fogle said work on the north wall slip encountered subsidence when workers had to bench an access road to set up platforms for cranes and drills, “so they can drill back in through the retaining wall down into the bedrock.”

“To be able to do that, they had to take dirt off to get at the right level at which they were able to drill those tie-back anchors,” he said.

This has resulted in an additional 10,000 cubic yards of earth, Fogle said. The removal of the dirt will cost an additional $206,800, bringing the total project cost to $3 million. The original cost had been expected at about $2.8 million.

School Board members Brian McFarland, Bill Suto and Chuck Probst heard the news Tuesday evening. Board members Nick Stankovich and Scott Ballint were absent.

Keller Construction is the company on site. The dirt removal will be done by Skeens Excavating.

“They have currently also worked on the project. They’re part of the current slip repair,” Fogle said.

Fogle said the owner of the nearby Ayers property has permitted the excess dirt to be dumped on his property. Fogle said Keller Construction recommended the 10,000 cubic yards of dirt not be replaced on the school property.

“If we put that weight and all that excess material back on it, we’re just making it worse,” Fogle said, adding that the company said the slip may worsen later regardless.

“They don’t want to knock it back on top of the slip.”

Probst asked if it were possible to bid out the removal and find a lower price. Suto disputed that, not wanting to hold up progress on the road work.

He said he wished the work could be done for cheaper, but was unwilling to simply shelf the matter for later.

“If you put it back knowingly, they know there’s a 99 percent chance it’s going to fail if we put the weight back on there…” Suto said. “I would like to get a better price, but if we hold these people up? … If we wait and bid it out and it comes back somewhere close to that price, we hold these guys up.”

Probst said he understood the situation but did not know if the price was appropriate.

“I don’t know what the cost is,” he said.

McFarland said many other local businesses are likely tied up with other jobs.

“We’re between a rock and a hard place,” Fogle said.

McFarland asked if the matter could be tabled until the March meeting.

“If we did that, and they finished and then left and we got to get them back,” Fogle said. “They can’t complete the project 100 percent with that dirt there. They can’t put the field back.”

Fogle said the estimated completion date has been moved from the end of February to the second week of March.

“If they’re done by then, I’ll be a happy camper,” Fogle said.

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