MARTIN — During a meeting of the Floyd County Board of Education this past week in Martin, board members voted to approve a change in construction plans after engineers discovered what they described as “water seeps” at the site for construction of the new Floyd County Central High School.
It’s the second construction snag in as many months. Inspectors brought the first in May when crews started earthwork and exposed that a large portion of the highwall surrounding the site was low-grade fill material, presumably packed in as part of the reclamation process after the site had been strip mined.
The fill material consisted of loose material containing large rocks, some the size of a five gallon jug, others the size of a chair. At that time, contractors could not go on site due to the safety hazard of falling rocks.
Hatcher, who reported the fill material issue to the board last month, also brought this new wrinkle to the board. In a letter presented to school board officials during their meeting at May Valley Elementary School.
“As you are aware, water seeps have been encountered in or near the proposed building pad area for your new building,” Hatcher said. “Filling of the building pad has continued pending a decision about the treatment of these water seep areas and the drainage ditch that has been left open to drain the water toward the creek adjacent to Kentucky 680.”
Hatcher has recommended the installation of what he referred to as a “French drain” that would pass through a portion of the building, bringing to light special considerations needing to be made.
The board approved the use of the French drain, adding that the cost for adding the fixture should not exceed $30,000.
Hatcher speculated last month that costs for dealing with the fill material crews discovered earlier could be approximately $50,000, while Floyd School Superintendent Henry Webb said costs for that issue could range from between $12,000 to $100,000.
The process of testing the Floyd Central High School site for unexpected issues like this is somewhat cost prohibitive. Though originally only four test drillings were planned, crews actually made five. Those came in at a cost of around $45,000.
During the meeting last month to accept a change order in the construction costs, board chairman Jeff Stumbo bemoaned the issue of changes in construction costs to do these orders, saying, “There’s one thing that this board is not particularly fond of, and that is change orders,” Stumbo said at the time. “We have had over the years some pretty significant conversation around the table about these things.”
The last consolidated school in the county, South Floyd High School, cost the board far more than originally anticipated. Initially, the plans for that high school began in 1986 with a budget of $4.4 million. The construction was repeatedly delayed, the plans for the school were repeatedly cut back, and the cost ballooned well beyond $10 million over the coming years after a raft of change orders. Many contractors involved were able to bill more than twice what they had originally bid through change orders.