WALWORTH — A monster piece of construction equipment is arriving soon at the Big Foot High School construction site, and the cost of insuring no road damage could force cuts in the school’s project.
To make sure it has the resources to repair any damage to streets, the Walworth Village Board has asked Big Foot’s construction manager to put up a $175,000 bond.
The village board voted April 8 to require Hellas Sports Construction Co., the lead contractor for the school, to post a bond to cover potential damage to Ridge Road and Devils Lane on delivery routes to the school work site.
Hellas agreed to the bond, but where the money will come from is still uncertain.
Big Foot School District administrator Doug Parker said the cost of insuring the roads against damage could require cuts in the school’s construction plans.
“Yes, something may have to be cut back, or the district will have to find the money,” Parker said.
Walworth Village President Tom Connelly said the village wanted to make sure that it could cover the costs of repairing any road damage without having to dig into its budget.
“We don’t want to repair a road if we don’t have to,” Connelly said.
The issue comes as Big Foot school officials are embarking on a $7.8 million investment in expanded and improved athletic facilities on campus, including upgrades for football, tennis, soccer and track.
Voters approved borrowing for the project last year, and dignitaries gathered April 1 for a ceremonial groundbreaking to kick off the construction work.
The equipment that is causing concern about road damage is an earth-moving machine called a belly-scraper or tractor-scraper. It weighs about 80,000 pounds. Adding on the weight of the tractor-trailer that hauls it, and that comes to 125,000 pounds.
Village officials say Ridge Road and Devils Lane are rated to handle a maximum of 48,000 pounds.
The village’s engineers have cautioned village officials that Ridge Road and Devils Lane could be damaged by the weight of equipment being moved to the Big Foot construction site.
During the April 8 village board meeting, Hellas project manager Ray Eimerman said the request for the road repair bond caught him by surprise.
Eimerman said neither he nor the school district were informed of the bond requirement earlier.
He said the cost of the insurance will hit where it hurts — in the amount of money available for the improvements at Big Foot.
“It’s going to directly impact the project,” he said.
Connelly said the $175,000 bond is intended to protect village taxpayers.
“We’re partners with this,” Connelly told Eimerman. “We’re not trying to beat you up on this.”
Eimerman responded: “We’re doing our best to protect the village. But I also have to protect the school and Hellas.”
The equipment is coming from J. Pease Construction Co. of Genoa City.
Hellas plans to bring the equipment to the site using County Road B, which becomes Kenosha Street when it reaches Walworth. From there, the equipment would follow Ridge Road to Devils Lane to the construction site.
Walworth County does not have a bond requirement for protecting county roads, but each piece of equipment that weighs more than 80,000 pounds requires a county permit.
Rich Hough, Walworth County director of public works, said Hellas has not yet applied for a permit for County Road B.
Eimerman said police will close off Ridge Road and Devils Lane when the belly-scraper arrives. The scraper moves at about 2.5 miles per hour. He said the roads would be closed for 45 minutes to an hour.
Eimerman said that while the belly-scraper may be largest piece of equipment to be transported to Big Foot, it is not the only heavy load.
He estimated that 2,000 truckloads of stone will be following the Ridge Road-Devils Lane route as well, with each dump truck weighting 60,000 pounds, and cement trucks weighing up to 80,000 pounds.