Piles driving up cost of Paducah Riverfront Project

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Reporter - Elizabeth Fields
Photojournalist - Mason Watkins

PADUCAH, Ky. - Just when it looked like the Paducah Riverfront project was picking up speed, the piles going in caused a problem with the budget.

City Engineer Rick Murphy met The Mayor and Commissioners out at the work site prior to the meeting Tuesday night to show them the issue first hand. Rick Murphy explained that the first phase is to build a bump-out to support future developments. That includes driving 12 piles into the river bottom. They had an estimated depth, but that came up short.  

MAC Construction & Excavation, Inc. informed the City on July 25 that the guide structures need to be driven approximately 10 to 15 additional feet deeper into the riverbed because of the soil conditions. 

Murphy told them they were going off estimates from the original work site.  "Soil science is not a complete science," he said. "It’s an estimation.” He added that the adjustment has to be made in order for the project to move forward.  

"If we don’t drive the pilings deeper, then our structure would be compromised in the future," he said. "It would sink over time.” 

At the meeting the Mayor and Commissioners voted to approve a municipal order to transfer $265,000 from the General Fund Reserve to the project account to cover additional work.

Commissioner Allan Rhodes was the only commissioner to vote against the order. He said he doesn't think the project has a sustainable business model. He would like to see the city cut it's losses.  

"I would say no more new city money for pilings," Rhodes said. " Finish the bump out with the park with the grants that are available."

According to the City, since 2008, $1.26 million has been invested for the engineering design, legal fees, and mussel relocation costs.  The majority of this phase of the riverfront project is funded by a $2.97 million Neighborhood Initiative Project Grant by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.  The grant funds are to be used on this project only.

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