The construction company currently working on replacing water mains on Belgrade’s north side is under investigation by the federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration, agency officials confirmed Thursday.
Complaints were filed Sept. 15 against W Construction, the general contractor on the project, and the federal agency has an ongoing open investigation, OSHA Acting Area Director David Nelson said. He declined to comment on the nature of the complaints.
“We do have an open investigation on that project,” he said. “We had a couple different complaints on the project.”
W Construction owner Jeremy Wortman declined to comment.
“It’s an open investigation and we haven’t received any citations or documentation, so I really can’t comment yet until we receive that information,” he said.
City Manager Joe Menicucci said OSHA has not contacted City Hall, but he is aware the project is being investigated.
“They’ve been here and looked at a couple different projects, but whether they are going to issue a citation, I officially couldn’t say,” he said. “I have not talked to OSHA. I don’t know anything official on that.”
What Menicucci did say was the federal agency is required to follow up on any complaints it receives, just like a police department or other government agency must. And, he added, nothing is official until a complaint is filed. “Talk is cheap,” he said.
Bozeman-based W Construction won a bid to replace 19,400 linear feet of aging four-inch water mains on the north side of town, according to city records. They have been installing new, 10-inch water mains throughout the north side all summer.
The contractor currently is finishing up the last of the new water-line installations along Quaw Boulevard and is waiting on the results of bacteria tests before the lines can be covered up and placed in service, Menicucci said Monday.
The torn-up street will then be paved before work is shut down for winter.
A 2008 water study revealed the water system has massive leaks, and that roughly 40 percent of the city’s water supply is disappearing into the rocky soil, according to city records.
The main culprit is leaded joint connecting the cast-iron, four-inch mains. Once the mains are replaced with larger diameter water lines, fire flows, energy costs and waste should be improved, engineers concluded.
A second phase of the construction project, to begin in the spring, entails extensive work in the alleys behind Main Street businesses from Quaw Boulevard to Davis Street, according to city records. Along with replacing water lines in the alleyways, new sewer lines also will be installed.
A camera assessment of the sewer lines behind the historic downtown buildings indicates several abandoned tie-ins and several breaks along the existing clay service line, according to city records.