Before this summer, drivers on Canyon Street in Twisp had to dodge potholes and — after heavy rains — sheets of standing water.
Since then, the road has been torn out and rebuilt, and town leaders say residents of Canyon Street are passing along their compliments about the smooth ride.
In fact, the only one in town who might be unhappy about the fresh pavement is Police Chief Paul Budrow, who suggested at the Oct. 8 Town Council meeting that it was going to encourage speeders.
The potholes are gone, but town officials admit residents aren’t so happy with how the town corrected the stormwater problem.
Long depressions or swales along Canyon Street were installed to collect runoff. These swales ended up in places where residents and their guests typically park, creating awkward situations for drivers who might dip into one unexpectedly and then have to climb back out. And when the snow falls, these depressions will be invisible to everyone, including snow plowers.
Residents have told town staff something needs to be done.
“Residents are not crazy about the swales, I’ll just put it that way,” Twisp Public Works Director Andrew Denham said in an email.
Town Council member Mark Easton asked Denham about the swales at the Oct. 8 meeting.
“We are very aware of the challenges, for lack of a better word, in the design,” Denham told the council.
Several factors combined to cause the problem. For one, the state is imposing ever more-stringent requirements for handling stormwater; this is the first time Twisp has installed swales to collect runoff after repaving a street. Secondly, the swales, while not parking-friendly, were the least-expensive option in the state’s stormwater rulebook.
Finally, the swales looked better on paper than they did in real life.
Denham said he expected to see a gravel shoulder between the swales and the edge of the fresh pavement.
“This is the first time I’ve had a swale at the edge of the pavement,” he told council. “Nobody knew they would be like that.”
Finding a solution
The public works director assured council members he was aggressively seeking a solution. Just two days later, he had a plan.
Four swales that are “most susceptible to encounters with vehicular traffic,” as Denham put it on Thursday (Oct. 10), will be filled with gravel. They will also get infiltration piping and catch basins, to keep them in compliance with the Department of Ecology’s 1,000-page “Stormwater Management Manual for Eastern Washington.”
The work was scheduled to begin on Tuesday (Oct. 15) and take two days to complete, at a cost of “a few thousand dollars roughly,” Denham said.
The total cost of the Canyon Street improvements, which included a new water line and repairs to the sewer line, has not been determined. Most of the money came from state and federal grants and loans.
Any extra charges or “liquidated damages” to the contractor, Hurst Construction, for working past the project deadline have not yet been determined, Denham said recently.
Denham told the council in August he had informed the contractor that the town could seek $2,000 a day to recoup unanticipated costs. The work was scheduled to be completed on Aug. 26 but went well into September.