Those nice new maple trees the city of Bingen had planted as part of its downtown revitalization project look great, but there's a problem: The irrigation system designed to water the trees is leaking in several places.
That means sections of the freshly-rebuilt sidewalks may have to be torn up to get to the water line.
"The contractor needs to provide a functional irrigation system with no leaks," said Bingen Mayor Brian Prigel. "They've encountered at least three leaks, and there may be more. They never had the line pressure-tested, which we required. When they tested it, it had leaks. They are out replacing the lines now."
Mike Wellman, the city's public works director, said the corrections could result in disturbed sidewalks in places.
"When you put down concrete and there are utilities underneath, it's a really tough thing to fix," Wellman said.
The subcontractor, Fox Erosion & Control out of the Portland area, was hired by the primary contractor, KLB Construction, to install the new trees. The trees were part of the overall State Route 14 repaving/streetscaping project through Bingen.
"We're frustrated and concerned," Prigel said. "They are so far behind."
Prigel pointed out that KLB is ultimately responsible for making sure the job is done properly.
"It's unfortunate. We warned the contractor [KLB] last fall that we had concerns," Prigel said. "We're after them to keep working on it. It will cost them a bunch of money if they don't."
Prigel said Fox has not yet been fully paid.
"They were paid partially," Prigel explained. "They were given progress payments. It was a lump sum contract, and they're required to finish the job to specifications."
With this latest setback to the downtown project, Prigel no doubt expressed the sentiment on the minds of many Bingen residents and business owners when he said: "I'll be happy when it's all done."