Officials were critical Monday night of the amount of Main Street work completed, and the number of complaints from residents along the roadway.
Members of the city’s personnel, finance and public works committee said residents have complained about the length of time that the street has been torn up in front of their homes.
“There are a lot of days in the summer that they didn’t work on this project,” said Alderman David Pope. “They are behind because of that.”
According to Alderman Dustin Bailey, there have been complaints that work is not being completed before crews move onto other concrete work further down the road.
“Some people have had the street in front of their houses torn up for three to four months,” said Bailey. “It has been a nightmare for some citizens, and now we are going to allow them three free months?”
Bailey added that crews should be completing work as they move east on Main Street.
“The whole stretch is under construction,” he said. “It is just not incomplete, the whole thing is a mess — it is frustrating. I feel across the board there are problems.”
Work began on the street project in May and it was slated to take 240 days, or about eight months, according to Terry Todd with the project engineer Cochran.
Todd said the initial schedule submitted to Cochran indicated the project would be complete Friday, Oct. 5.
According to City Administrator Russell Rost, there are several subcontractors that are behind with work on the street, but ultimately McGruder Paving, the contractor, is responsible.
The committee asked that a representative from McGruder come to the Oct. 8 board of aldermen meeting and present an updated time line.
The deadline for completion was Dec. 15, but there will be about 10 more days provided to the contractor to complete the project because there were additions to the project including the addition of $20,000 to the Main Street project to be used for more curb and gutter replacement.
Todd said it is unlikely that the work will completed by the deadline.
“The way it looks now, it is very iffy if the project will be complete by then,” he said.
Todd added that from Dec. 15 through March 15, the city cannot assess damages for incomplete work due to low temperatures. He said most concrete plants won’t be open during those months.
In effect, that pushed the deadline back to March 15, however, alderman questioned if work should be permitted to work during the winter months.
Bailey noted that construction could create larger issues in the winter.
“We are asking them to stay off our streets during winter months because it is not safe,” said Bailey.
Committee members agreed that there should not be major construction downtown during the holiday season — the busiest time of year for some businesses.
Furthermore, Bailey noted the contractors shouldn’t be given “unrestricted access” to city streets past the Dec. 15 deadline.
Instead, work should halt work Dec. 15, and then resume March 15 when the contractors can be assessed for each say the project is not complete.
“Somebody needs to get something done,” he said. “This is silly.”
Rost said he has fielded several complaints, including residents who have gaps between the curbs and roadway in the front of their homes that have been that way for several weeks to more than a month.
He said there is an elderly woman who has had to cross over rock and mud to get to her home while using a walker.
“It is their reputation that is being destroyed,” he said. “There are a lot of people who are angry.”
Rost questioned why these issues were not noticed by those supervising the project.
“It seems to me that it would be a lot simpler to drive up the street and look for these things,” he said.
Bailey questioned why Cochran has not addressed problems that residents have as they come up, including walking access to the homes from the street.
“Shouldn’t you see the same problem that people are complaining about?” he asked. “If you are checking what they are doing, shouldn’t you get complaints because you are seeing it every day?”
Rost noted that other major street projects were completed on schedule.
“Looking at Church Street and Washington Avenue, I don’t know that this timeline is unreasonable,” he said.
Mayor Mike Livengood said there has been a paver parked on Meadowview Drive near Main Street that has not moved for over a month.
“This is ticking people off,” he said.
“They did not plan enough time for this project,” added Pope. “It is plain and simple.”
The scope of the Main Street project includes a 2-inch asphalt overlay, concrete base repairs, new sidewalks and signs.
It is the city’s largest street project since Church Street, and is similar to that project and the Washington Avenue project which have been completed in the past few years.
Included in the project is a roundabout at the intersection of Main Street and Independence Drive that has already been completed.