Cornell Local Roads Program

What was Involved in Building the New Parkway Culvert...

Kirk Williams, DPW Superintendent, Village of Warwick

...And Why It “Took So Long”

Village of Warwick’s Parkway culvert immediately following Hurricane Irene
Village of Warwick’s Parkway culvert
immediately following Hurricane Irene
Source: The Warwick Advertiser

In 2011, Hurricane Irene washed the old culvert away, damaging utilities and causing a major traffic impact to the Village.

Immediately, the Village contacted the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for emergency federal funding for bridge replacement. Village engineers, in concert with FEMA, assessed the damages and roughed out a recovery plan. Application for the federal funding was started, once the “scope” of the project was known.

The newly completed culvert
The newly completed culvert
Source: LHV Precast Inc.

Design Phase

The FEMA representative was Mike Patton, who is both a licensed Engineer and Architect, and has had extensive experience nationwide in many disaster recoveries.

While Mike was expediting the funding issues thru FEMA, the Village hired Dave Getz as design engineer. On April 19 2012, he started a hydraulic study and began design.

Our designer had many considerations when the plans were made for the replacement. One of these considerations was our “green” policy. In line with this policy, the old culvert was crushed into suitable shoulder back up material, and we decided to re-use railings from other old (100+ years) bridges.

As an NYSDEC (New York State Department of Environmental Conservation) protected stream, certain parameters were required for environmental protection. FEMA also has additional requirements for replacement work. In essence, our culvert design needed to withstand a “100 year flood”; which has an average return period of 100 years.

However, before anything could be designed, we needed to know that the ground where the new culvert would sit would be able to carry the new loading. We hired Fairway Testing Labs, under a County Emergency Bid, to provide borings and soil analysis to calculate the soil bearing capacity. Our Engineer used that information in his design calculations.

Even the Orange County Health Department was involved in the project. A major water distribution main had been severed, and this contributed to, but was not the sole cause of, a “brown” water issue. Village water, like traffic, had to be re-routed. Our proposed reconnection had to be designed to requirements of the Health Department, which reviewed and approved the design.

While all this was happening, Dave Getz and I decided to look at the option of installing a ”pre-cast” culvert as opposed to a traditional “built in place” culvert. We decided on the “pre-cast” option as it would save us months of time and was very cost effective.

Since the site was within the Village Historical District, the Architectural Review Board (ARB) had to decide on the “Finish”, colors and recycled rail configurations. Choosing the finish resulted in working very “long distance” with Fitzgerald Form Liners in California, and we even had several choices “overnighted” to us. The ARB approved the “Georgia Ashlar“ old stone look.


Installation of the pre-cast culvert sections
Source: The Warwick Advertiser

The “pre-cast” culvert design was approved, and the Village bid this out as soon as FEMA funding was secured. Our strategy was to have the culvert made, and curing, while the other parts of the project were yet to be approved, or bid. When public bids are let, there are legal time limits which must be followed. A purchase order was issued to the low bidder, ConTech. ConTech engaged one of their licensed precast fabricators; LVH of Kingston NY.

We then hired Fairway Testing Labs to provide in-plant rebar and concrete inspections.

While all the pre-cast work was going on, we bid out the erection and on site construction, using Legal Notices and Dodge Reports. Here, Sita Construction of Goshen was the low bidder. The bid was reviewed, references checked, and the Board awarded the field work on June 4th (any award of a public works contract must have Board approval, and be on agenda before the Board meeting). Submittals were done immediately, and the contractor mobilized.


While all this was going on, a critical part of the work was ongoing behind the scenes - the historically accurate restoration of the old railings. Since they were very old, bent and heavily rusted, extra care was needed. We also needed to make them Code compliant. We hired the very talented, local Blacksmith Paul Norris.

He did all his research, especially to see if the aged iron/steel was weldable. The railing also had to be functional as a barrier to prevent vehicles from driving thru and protect pedestrians. Dave Getz drew up a plan for additional strengthening and maximum openings for safety. Paul was able to dismantle and re-use the old parts.

But before that, the rails needed to be taken down to white metal so the integrity could be confirmed, and proper welding and coating could be done. The ARB chose the final coating color, and a special road salt resistant coating was specified. The rails were shipped to Blastco, in Pennsylvania. After cleaning, Paul straightened out the rails, added new and old parts. Special wooden cradles were made to transport the rails back for final coating, so that road stresses wouldn’t harm them.

At the same time, the precast sections were completed. It started to look like it was all falling into place on schedule, and for our hoped for opening by AppleFest.

Then the inevitable construction surprises started to occur…


We found that due to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Crane regulations, we would need to disconnect major power lines. O& R (Orange and Rockland Utilities, Inc.) went to extra lengths to re-route power seamlessly, remove the lines, and then restore the original power. Our Water Superintendant Chris Bennett was a key player in expediting all the utility work. His knowledge of the history of Irene and utilities was priceless.

“Irene” took the bridge away, then “Isaac” flooded the construction site. Luckily, “PePe”, owner of Sita was able to recover quickly; and it looked like we were ready to have the precast shipped.

Then we found that DOT regulations would not allow us to ship one day before, or one day after Labor Day weekend. Another deluge hit, but we quickly recovered and were finally ready to ship.

When the pieces arrived, they were set by a new, state of the art Olori crane. It was operated with incredible smoothness, by a local resident. Its capacity allowed for safe and accurate placement.

Installation of the pre-cast culvert sections
Installation of the
pre-cast culvert sections
Source: LHV Precast Inc

The exceptional quality of LVH Precast soon was apparent. Like an intricate puzzle, they fit together precisely, and quickly. Next, the pieces were stained with an ARB selected color, to avoid that raw concrete look.

The new “bridge’ was open for AppleFest, thus allowing smooth passage of pedestrians. AppleFest draws tens of thousand of people each year. Not only were we on schedule, but under budget!!!

This was all possible thru the teamwork of all parties involved. My thanks to all, including the public for their patience.

Kirk Williams
DPW Supt.
Village of Warwick

Kirk recieved 2 free workshop certificates for sharing his story with us. Please send your own success stories to us at

Spring 2013

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This work by the Cornell Local Roads Program (CLRP) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.