First, the Orange City Council and the Orange Economic Development Corporation approved construction options to reduce the total cost of the original estimate of the Riverfront Development Project in downtown Orange at a special meeting in October of last year.

On Tuesday morning both entities approved using contingency funds for the project due to excessive concrete rip rap that was discovered. The OEDC passed the item unanimously while the city council vote tally was 5-1 with Councilman Cullin Smith voting no.

The additional construction costs for the alternative boardwalk alignment will be $356,030. Additional design fees will be $15,000. The estimated completion date has been pushed back one month to Feb. 1, 2013.

Jay Trahan, OEDC director, said there is a $500,000 contingency fund and this alternative will not add to the city’s budget.

Landscape Engineer Jeffrey Carbo reported to the council during his presentation that when construction for the project began on June 5 an excessive amount of sub-surface concrete rip rap was discovered after crews from contractor SpawGlass demolished 445 linear feet of shoreline, starting at the location of the old Jack Tar Hotel.

The extent of the rip rap was unknown at the time.

Test digs were performed along the remaining portion of the shoreline on June 6. Excessive amounts of sub-surface concrete rip rap were encountered from Division Avenue to the rail spur- 780-feet of shoreline.

Carbo said alternative boardwalk alignments were examined.

It was revealed three initial soil borings for geotechnical reports performed on February 28, 2011 had minimal interference. Test digs were performed on June 6 to determine the depth of the concrete rip rap along the sheet pile wall’s path.

On June 14, exploratory drills were performed at various distances inland of the existing shoreline to determine the extent and depth of the rip rap.

It was determined the boardwalk could be constructed 20-feet to 16-feet inland of the existing shoreline. Concrete rip rap was discovered at depths of three-feet to five-feet, but it was successfully penetrated by the driller.

Carbo recommended the following to the council and the OEDC:

· Shift the boardwalk in question inland

· Construct rip rap breakwaters near the existing shoreline to reduce any wave action

· Plant articulated concrete mats under the wetland planting between the boardwalk and breakwaters as shoreline protection

He added the primary consideration for the project- riverfront stabilization- has not been compromised. The shoreline will also now have a gentler slope with the 10-feet by four-feet concrete slabs.

Carbo then answered questions from members of the council and OEDC.

OEDC Attorney Alan Sanders noticed in a drawing the boardwalk was not continuous as previously drawn and it now had two breaks in it. Carbo said the boardwalk is still continuously connected with an entrance now made to the performance plaza.

Carbo added there is also a 21-inch sewer line across the barrier that was avoided. Additionally, there is an historic tree at Ochiltree Park the route will be looped around.

All of the boardwalk will be Americans with Disabilities Act compliant, he said.

Furthermore, there will be no need to acquire another permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the boardwalk alignment.

Smith reminded Carbo the biggest risk factor for the project was the area to be stabilized. Carbo answered they had to acquire a permit to execute bore drilling and they didn’t want to leave the shoreline exposed in case of an approaching storm.

Smith replied it was a “pretty big risk” relying on the three bores drilled in February, 2011. Carbo said it was a “roll of the dice” and they could have done 20 bores and still not find the problem.

Smith answered Carbo he could have made advanced designs of the project instead of playing catch-up. Carbo said they wouldn’t have known about the concrete until they started the project.

Councilwoman Annette Pernell was concerned if a barrier would run along the length of the boardwalk so no one would fall into the Sabine River.

Carbo said a rail covers most of the boardwalk and he asked SpawGlass for a railing to cover the full extent of the boardwalk for safety reasons.

Some OEDC members voiced their concerns that the project has just started and contingency funds are already being used and what the future would be like.

Carbo said nothing in the redesign project compromises the original intent.

In a prior Record article, it was reported Carbo made recommendations that included bringing the boardwalk from over the water to the water’s edge.

“We can move the boardwalk from being actually over the water to the edge of the water. This would eliminate the need for the steel sheet pilings, still leave the vinyl sheet piling for bank stabilization and have those on the walk looking over the edge look straight into the river,” he said. “We can save money by reducing the width of the boardwalk from 14-feet to 12-feet. There would still be the bump outs to attach bumpers so that boats could be tied to the dock. By doing this, the floating dock could be eliminated.”

Other proposals included planting less trees and bushes, bringing in the Front Street sidewalk from the curb to eliminate the possibility of interference with utilities, not installing the cover over the pavilion and eliminating the stamping of the asphalt on Division Avenue. The stamping would have given the paving the appearance of a brick roadbed.

The original estimate of $11 million included a contingency of $200,000 for unexpected complications that may surface once the work starts. The proposed reductions would amount to $6,342,000.

The revised estimate of $5.6 million would include cost of base concrete work, costs of electrical services by Entergy and a contingency of $500,000.