Road Work Not Completed Before Holiday

Road Work Not Completed Before Holiday Featured

By / Local News / Wednesday, 27 May 2015 04:00

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH - Carolina Beach Town Manager Michael Cramer said Tuesday May 19th, that work on Cape Fear Blvd from Lake Park Blvd to 3rd Street would be mostly complete by Friday for the Memorial Day weekend. The road was not paved as of May 26th following the holiday weekend. The Phase 1A infrastructure project in downtown Carolina Beach has fallen behind schedule due to weather and other unforeseen issues.
A portion of the project on Cape Fear Blvd between Lake Park Blvd and 3rd Street was set for completion by May 15.  Delays have pushed that date closer to the Memorial Day holiday weekend. The Phase 1-A project was approved to replace aging water, sewer and storm water lines  as well as implementing a new streetscape plan to improve pedestrian areas. The project will also relocate overhead utility lines underground to help improve the visual appeal in the area.
Cramer said May 19th that, "We have grading, some curb and gutter, sidewalks and paving.  At this point we are focusing on the curb and gutter, grading and paving.  Those are the things that should be complete by Friday."
Gil DuBois - Public Utilities Director for the Town - explained at the Council's Tuesday May 12th, meeting, "Due to this inclement weather we've had for the last couple of days  with rain, wind and everything else, we are currently about five days behind schedule." He said they originally planned to begin paving that section of road on Tuesday and did begin pouring concrete for the curbs. He said, "The goal is still to have that paved and be out of there by Memorial Day. Talking to the contractor twice today, we feel like we can get that accomplished next week without any problem."
Mayor Dan Wilcox said, "Have they increased their hours, weekend work, whatever, to make up for the weather because Memorial Day is not really an option. We have to be finished before Memorial Day."
DuBois said, "They actually did increase their crews. They have increased their hours." He said if it's pouring rain you can't pour concrete or grade the road bed. He said that section of road would be paved within six days.
Businesses located on that portion of Cape Fear Blvd are open for business although they are concerned how the project will impact business during one of the busiest holiday weekends of the year. For example, loyal customers continue to shop at Sea Merchant's Grocery Store, but owners fear if the project isn't completed tourists will pass them by simply because it looks like a construction area. A sight that deters people from using the road to begin with.
In response to a complaint emailed to Cramer about the state of the road over the Memorial Day holiday weekend, Cramer explained, "The town leaders and staff have also been concerned and troubled by the pace of the project. One of our biggest challenges is that over the past 50 years the town has not kept good records about our utilities and we have only performed Band-Aid repairs to the infrastructure. This fact has made it extremely difficult to replace the existing infrastructure. We have found numerous unknown water, sewer and storm water lines, vaults and power utility lines throughout the project. These unknown infrastructure issues have caused significant slowdowns in our work schedule. We have also had an extremely wet fall, winter and spring which makes construction difficult. The issues with the project have not been items that could have been foreseen and have not been due to the blatant incompetence and poor planning that you have mentioned. We have been in constant communication with the businesses in the area in order to keep them informed. I have been on site everyday to see the progress and slowdowns and I know that council has been intimately involved. If you are interested in blaming someone for the lack of oversight that you believe has taken place;
you need not look any further that my desk. I too hope that the next round of improvements will go more smoothly, but if history is our guide we will continue to have difficulties replacing our underground utilities. If you have questions or if you would like to talk further about the project please let me know and I would be happy to meet with you."
On Tuesday May 26th, workers continued installing curbs, grading the road bed and pouring sidewalks. No updated completion date has been issued.

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