Editorial: Road Work Around Elementary School

By / Editorials / Wednesday, 31 August 2016 04:00

Managing Editor

The Town barely finished up work on Atlanta Avenue from 4th Street to 5th Street adjacent to the Carolina Beach Elementary School prior to the start of the school year on Monday August 29th. Even the Town's Operations Director said it was like doing a month worth of work in 19 days. (See report on page 1-A)

The work is part of the Phase B infrastructure project to replace aging water, sewer and storm water lines in the area as well as replacing sidewalks and repaving the streets. Citizens want better water quality, storm drainage and adequate sewer lines. Sidewalks and freshly paved streets are welcomed in a Town that's well known for it's bumpy roads and numerous pot holes.

The issue here was timing.

The Town's contractor had to rush to get done with a portion of the project adjacent to the school in order to not create problems for the volumes of parents who drive there everyday to drop off and pick up their children school. The contractor was awarded a  $12 million dollar bid for the project on May 10th of this year. Engineering began before that contract was awarded.

The Town sold nearly $32 million dollars in revenue bonds on June 30th to fund this project and numerous others over the long term.

The schedule for the first of seven sections within the Phase B project was set to start on July 18th and be completed by October 7th. That first section includes the area around the school.

There are funding mechanisms in place that would have permitted the work immediately surrounding the school to begin earlier rather than later. Maybe not months earlier, but on a schedule that provided more time for the work to be done rather than in a mad rush requiring work daily including Saturdays and Sundays within a couple of weeks. Or, since the overall schedule for the Phase B project and all of the seven sections is set for completion in 2018, this section could have been moved until after the school year.

It's an understood that important infrastructure projects have to be carried out to maintain or improve quality of life for citizens and business owners and sometimes those projects create inconvenience for the public.

At the same time, the school was working on a project to do roof repairs. That was a project that should have been factored into the Phase B project around the school. Perhaps the school should have started that project earlier based on the Town's schedule. Ultimately the work on Atlanta was completed just in time but other streets in the area will be closed at times through 2018.


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