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Hospital and city reach agreement on contentious Main Street issues

 

Posted 10/13/15 (Tue)

By Kevin Killough
The City of Tioga has come to an agreement with Tioga Medical Center on how to address issues on the North Main Street project.
The city commission met with the hospital board Wednesday last week to discuss the issues and hammer out an agreement to allow the construction to proceed.  
With the project in the final rush before weather prevents its completion this year, issues arose concerning the underside clearance of a mobile MRI truck the hospital uses and a culvert needed for proper drainage.
Engineers with Ackerman-Estvold created software models to design a curve of the road up the hill to the rear of the hospital. According to the models, the road should accommodate enough underside clearance for the truck. 
However, the models do not create absolute certainty.
“There’s no way anybody’s going to be able to tell you it works for sure unless it’s built and tested,” Antonio Conti said.
Conti is an engineer formerly  with AE2S who works on Tioga projects. He left that position to work for Ackerman. He took over the Main Street project last week. 
He said the software is “the best you can get,” but the decision is ultimately in the hands of the company that owns the MRI truck. They haven’t committed to the solution based on the models.
Randall Pederson, Tioga Medical Center CEO, said the truck generates a lot of revenue from the hospital, and if the road cannot accommodate the truck, it’s going to have a significant impact on the center. 
The suggestion was made to place gravel down on the road and have the truck drive over it to test the clearance as it is planned, but this option was dismissed after some discussion. 
Not only would it be time consuming at the end of the building season, but it wouldn’t provide much certainty.
The commission and hospital board ultimately agreed to build the road and then make alternations to the top of the hill if the MRI truck should encounter clearance problems. 
Should alternations need to be made, it would add up to $12,000 to the costs, Conti said, but it would allow them to get the road done this season. 
Without the road complete, it would also make it difficult for the hospital to begin using its new rear ambulance bays.
“The last thing we want to do is keep bringing patients in through our front lobby,” Pederson said. 
Issues with the ability of the culvert to properly direct runoff were then addressed. The city was looking at a $13,000 solution to place a hard pipe underground to direct the runoff. 
Conti assured the commission and hospital board the open culvert could be regraded to fix any issues there. 
The problem is the riprap, he said, is too high to provide proper flow. If they regrade the ditch to lower the riprap, then the city won’t need to put in a hard pipe.
While this will add some cost to the project, it isn’t going to be as much as the hard pipe solution. 
In the interest of getting the project complete as soon as possible, the city agreed to cover those costs and let go of disagreements over who is responsible for the problem. 
“I’m not going to sit here and point fingers all day,” said Mayor Drake McClelland. 
The hospital board agreed it is time to just move forward on the project.
“It’s all part of the community, and we need to be working together and not fighting,” said David Rust, who sits on the hospital board. 
The project is still expected to take another three to four weeks to complete, Conti said.