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The American Bottom Levee Project

AMEC’s role transitioning from design to construction oversight

By ALAN J. ORTBALS
    Final approval on the levee restoration’s final projects is expected from the U.S. Corps of Engineers by Aug. 18, according to Jon Omvig, manager of AMEC Environment & Infrastructure, Inc.’s St. Louis office. AMEC is the project engineer on the restoration effort.
    AMEC submitted project BP #7A upper Wood River-shallow cutoff wall and project BP #7B lower Wood River-deep cutoff wall to the Corps for a Section 408 review last April. Under the 408 process, the project designs are reviewed by the local Corps office, the division office in Memphis and the national headquarters in Washington, D.C. These projects have bounced back and forth between AMEC and the Corps. AMEC did the original design but the project was turned over to the Corps when it received approximately $20 million in funding to make the improvements. However, because the Corps could not guarantee the project price, date of completion or the use of local labor, the Southwestern Illinois Flood Prevention District Council decided to take the project back and forego the federal funds. Because of the Corps’ heavy involvement in creating the design, Omvig said that the multi-level 408 review process was expected to take four months rather than the year to year and a half that would typically be involved.
    With the submission of these projects to the Corps, AMEC’s role shifts from design to construction oversight.
    “Ninety-nine percent of our design work is finished,” Omvig said. When we issue bids to the contractor, one of the elements of the project is the installation of relief wells. There is a small amount of design associated with that. The contractor will drill a pilot hole; determine exactly what the subsurface condition is at that location; and then we create the final design based on that. The bulk of our work now is overseeing the construction and getting all of the documentation, surveys and drawings together to submit to FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) for certification.”
    In an effort to expedite construction, the projects have already been bid in anticipation of Corps approval. Work on the shallow cutoff walls is expected to be completed in January or February 2015 with the deep cutoff walls following in June or July 2015.
    “We’ve compressed the schedule and we anticipate the contractor running two, 10-hour shifts to get it done,” Omvig said.
    AMEC will be certifying the levee restoration work and sending everything to FEMA as each of the levee systems (Fish Lake/Prairie DuPont, Metro East Sanitary District and Wood River) are completed. The goal, Omvig said, is to have FEMA approval by the end of 2015.