Red River prioritizes infrastructure goals
Red River’s infrastructure — its streets, sidewalks, water and sewer systems — are the proverbial elephant in the room, but town officials met recently to discuss the order in which the town should cut the elephant down to size.
Along with Tappan Mahoney, chief engineer from Dennis Engineering Company, and public works employees, town councilors held a work session Tuesday (Aug. 14) to plan how it will spend general obligation bond and other funds in repairing and extending town infrastructure.
Russell Church, the town’s environmental compliance and grant administrator, told the council preliminary work was about done on Phase 1, the water tank project at the Wild Oaks subdivision (off Highway 38 headed up Bobcat Pass), “The tank could come in by next week or the following week. We had the funding to do this, so it’s getting done.”
According to town bid documents, work includes “a new 200,000-gallon welded steel water storage tank, a new triplex booster pump station, new distribution and transmission water lines, directional bore, rehabilitation of a 1.25 million-gallon welded steel storage tank and a 17,500-gallon welded steel storage tank, installation of new meter cans and pressure reducing valves and other minor items.”
Church noted Phase 2 will run a 6-inch water line and add three new hydrants up Bitter Creek and replace water lines going east to Young’s Ranch subdivision with the goal of creating a loop “that will help move some water around.”
Water lines from Tenderfoot to Hillcrest were originally part of Phase 3. Public Works employee Jeff Brunson noted, “Our water loss right now is outrageous.…”
After discussing the problem, however, the mayor and council decided to move that phase to a higher priority and begin searching for funding now.
Without funds, no movement
Mayor Linda Calhoun said CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) funds could possibly be used “to implement repairs by Spring 2020. That sounds like a long way out, but until we do design, we can’t do construction and until we get funds, we cannot do design.”
Church added, “Tenderfoot also needs a loop. That’s the problem with the west end of town. When we have a water leak, we have to shut that end of town down.
Phase 4 of the infrastructure plan involves replacing water lines throughout Red River and Phase 5 is improving lines from the water tank up Pioneer Road to Main Street.
Town officials discussed hiring a company to map where water line leaks are now. (This is typically done using acoustic data — listening for and recording vibrations during quiet usage hours.) Additionally, public works employees will also map problem areas.
Church pointed out that during peak demand is when water tank problems occur. “There’s where we need a control system for our pumps,” He said. “That may be part of our water loss that we don’t know is happening. The tank may be overflowing and we don’t know about it.”
Brunson asked, “Instead of fixing the leak, why don’t we go in and replace the entire line?”
Calhoun replied, “We can’t because of funding.… So, Tappan, do you have any words of wisdom to give us?
Mahoney replied, “You need planning documents and a thorough report before you can apply for funding. You can’t get discouraged. I know it’s frustrating. Getting it done takes 2 to 2 ½ years for any program you work with.”
The town will apply for $1.7 million through the state Water Trust Board, which recommends to the Legislature projects to be funded through the Water Project Fund.
Church said the odds are not in the town’s favor: “Red River is ranked ‘disadvantaged’ while other communities are ‘severely disadvantaged.’”
To which Calhoun replied, “How do we get ranked ‘severely disadvantaged?’”
The problem with water loss
Leaking water lines result in water “loss” for the town but so do storage tank overflows. Town officials discussed whether a supervisory control and data acquisition system, a computer system used for monitoring and automation, would help.
Town sewer lines also leak, Church said, suggesting the town use block grant funds for those repairs.
Mahoney said, “At some point, all the lines that have to be replaced would have to be “camera-ed.”
Issac Cisneros, public works director, said, “You have to block the line to camera because the equipment won’t work underwater.I would hate for Lifts West and the Conference Center to be backing up. I would like to do it when (Red River is) an actual ghost town…. after Oktoberfest.
Mayor Calhoun said, “The other thing is, we need to [pave] High Street, but we can’t [pave] High Street until we do the infrastructure under High Street. This is a tough one, guys.”
The town has already received a $3.96 million loan/ grant package to upgrade and modernize its wastewater treatment facility.
Main Street sidewalk project
The town is looking into the federal Transportation Alternatives Program funding for its Main Street sidewalk project, Church said. “We’ve met with DOT (Department of Transportation) officials. This is a project that the DOT supports. They’ve given us the survey already. They were going to do the project and replace the sidewalks with gray concrete. The next step for us is doing the design work and request the funding.”
Calhoun asked, “How much money are we asking for?”
“I don’t know because we have to do the design,” Church replied.
Mahoney predicted the project would cost “close to a million” to which Church added, “If we want it, we’ve got it.”
Calhoun asked, “Can we do new streetlights with the project? I’d love to get new streetlights. I think we need to apply for the whole shebang if it’s federal money.”
Red River is prioritizing town projects.