TREASURE ISLAND — Testing to determine the cause of multiple cracks in the new $1.2 million beach trail continues as city commissioners are told that the problem probably isn't structural.
Phil Graham IV, managing principal of Graham-Booth Landscape Architecture, told commissioners at a recent meeting it would be another four to eight weeks before testing is completed and a report with the cause and solution could be given.
The cracking along the 1-mile walkway began in the spring as the trail was being dedicated and has continued, causing complaints from residents and city officials alike.
Graham has hired two outside consultants to do the testing and determine the cause but told commissioners preliminary results show it probably is not caused by unstable soil.
"I don't believe it's a geotechnical issue," he said. "The ground is solid, it's not shifting from a soil perspective."
Graham said several experts think there is strong initial evidence to indicate the cracking "is a cosmetic issue." He said he is spending thousands of dollars to come up with the cause and a solution.
"This is a serious thing," he said. "I apologize for the lengthy process. We've completed one test and have one to go."
Some of the testing equipment was damaged, city officials said, by vandals, which has delayed the evaluation.
But two commissioners questioned Graham's initial assumption about the soil and said the cracking does look like it has been caused by shifting ground.
Commissioner Phil Collins questioned whether the cracks were caused by an incorrect mixture of concrete.
"Wouldn't it make sense to take a section up and examine it?" he asked.
Commissioner Alan Bildz said he recently walked the beachfront trail and came across sections that appeared uneven, which to him would indicate the foundation wasn't solid.
"I think the only way we can fix this is to rip the whole thing out," he said. "It is my fear that when you come up with a conclusion, the warranty will be over."
Attorney Maura Kiefer was instructed by commissioners to check into whether the city's letter notifying the company of the problems would delay the warranty's expiration.