In response to a resident email, the City stated that Extraction will give them a detailed report as to why on Nov. 28 during boring of a pipeline that Sheridan Road “heaved at the very end of the bore without a spike in pressure, which means there was some change in the geology, soil compaction, or soil composition at that specific location.” When asked why the public was not informed about this road danger by the City’s Oil and Gas Alert News Items last week or during the Dec. 4 City Council Meeting, City and County Engineer Katie Allen replied, “We understand that Extraction’s work is particularly sensitive and are learning and adapting to this fact. In short, we missed on this one.”
During Public Comments at the Dec. 4 Council Meeting, Wildgrass resident Shannon Hammel described how during the previous week her car had bottomed out on Sheridan Road west of Lowell while “big rigs were drilling both inside and outside the fence Extraction put up” and there were “a ton of workers out pointing to the road.” A few days later her husband “going 15 mph under the speed limit…almost lost the Christmas tree off the top of his car.” She stated that recently added “slow” and “bump” signs did not give the driver adequate warning.
Director of Special Initiatives Tami Yellico wrote Ms. Hammel a private response that evening with a few details about what happened. The next morning to follow-up, Wildgrass resident Jean Lim (author) wrote a detailed email to Ms. Yellico, City Manager Ozaki and Council, asking two questions:
“1) Why did Sheridan heave during Extraction’s boring of the pipeline?
2) Why was the public not informed about this road danger by the City’s Oil and Gas Alert News Items last week or at least at the Council meeting last night after Ms. Hammel’s comments?”
At the end of Ms. Lim’s email to Council and Staff, she stated, “For anyone who is asking why the public would be upset about how the City handled this Extraction accident, I would suggest that Broomfield residents see this as a bellwether of things to come with this Extraction project. Extraction can’t even get a pipeline installed without causing road damage that threatens our safety, so what danger lies ahead when they drill 19 wells within a mile of 1700 plus homes next to the Livingston Pad?” Regarding the lack of communication about the road danger by the City, Ms. Lim’s email stated, “In combination with the fact that there was no public acknowledgement that the Oil and Gas Complaint System failed, the public is left wondering what else will not be conveyed to them as this project presents greater health and safety risks going forward.” Please see the entire text of Ms. Lim’s letter here.
Ms. Yellico responded by forwarding a response from City and County Engineer Katie Allen that Ms. Yellico said she had shared with Council earlier that day. Please see the details of that letter below.
The City did not make it clear if the public would now be informed about the road danger or if Extraction’s accident report would be made public. Ms. Lim replied to Ms. Yellico to ask those questions and is awaiting a response.
“Here is a further response on the Sheridan road heaving issue from City & County Engineer Katie Allen that I shared with Council earlier tonight:”
“My understanding is that Extraction placed a “BUMP” and a reduced speed limit sign (30 MPH) immediately after the road was damaged. There was a concern raised last night that the signs were too close to the heave and didn’t provide sufficient warning to drivers. Tom Schomer (Traffic Engineer) drove the section this morning and requested that the signs be placed further east. At our meeting with Extraction this afternoon, we also asked for signage on both sides of Lowell so that turning traffic from Lowell to Sheridan would also see the signs. Tom felt that the reduced speed limit should suffice until the repair is made rather than a lane closure.”
“In regards to the work and the repair, there are 3 pipelines that need to cross Sheridan, a 20″, a 12″, and an 8″. The 20″ bore is complete and was the bore that caused the road damage. The 12″ is being completed today. The 8″ pipe is on order and work will begin in about a week.”
“To summarize the overall process, plans were submitted, reviewed (several iterations), approved, and permits issued. All utilities in the roadway were exposed with testholes (also known as “utility potholing’), to confirm the horizontal and vertical locations prior to boring operations. Broomfield’s Construction Inspection Supervisor was on site with Extraction’s crews and monitoring pressures throughout the operation. The road heaved at the very end of the bore without a spike in pressure, which means there was some change in the geology, soil compaction, or soil composition at that specific location. The bore operation was immediately stopped, the pressure was relieved and the road surface dropped some, but not entirely. The road damage signage was put up and the field team agreed on a plan for fixing the problem when the bores are complete. The rationale for doing the repair after the bores are complete is that we’ve identified a specific area of concern for risk of heaving and want to make sure it doesn’t happen a second time.”
“The alternative to boring is to open trench the utility lines. This is much more invasive and disruptive to the public. Extraction is going to put together a detailed report of the incident and any adjustments that can or should be made for the next roadway crossing/bores at Lowell Blvd.”
“Two of the 3 bores are complete. The 8″ pipe is on order and Extraction estimated it will be here in a week. The bore should be complete in less than a week, but will need a more detailed schedule from Extraction.”
“The fact that this issue was caused by Extraction should have resulted in immediate communication for the City’s website. In the greater realm of construction operations, this, and other similar issues happen quite often and are typically handled at the staff level by our Construction Inspection Supervisor and others in Public Works. His job requires dealing with construction issues every day. In the past, if such an issue was caused by boring an electrical or irrigation line, it would be handled at his level and corrected. We understand that Extraction’s work is particularly sensitive and are learning and adapting to this fact. In short, we missed on this one.”