Tuesday, August 07, 2012

TOP STORY >> Road widening moving forward

Leader staff writer

The contractor who has been relocating water lines on Graham Road is finally gone after five months of delays.

The $3.35 million widening project is now full steam ahead.

For decades, the city’s master street plan and other area maps have shown a four-lane road connecting Hwy. 89 in Lonoke County to Hwy. 107 in Pulaski County.

The widening of Graham Road to four lanes from Loop Road to Elm and Oak streets, a distance of about a mile, is part of that master plan. The project is 80 percent federally funded.

The widening, which is being done by Township Builders of Little Rock, is 20 percent complete, according to Glenn Bolick, spokesman for the Arkansas State Highway Department.

He said the project is scheduled to be finished in May, but it could be completed as soon as February or as late as June.

Bolick explained that the off-season for construction is from mid-December to mid-March. During this time, contractors aren’t penalized for delays.

“If we have a mild winter, they can do it quicker. They’re making progress,” Bolick said.

As for the utility relocation, Jacksonville Waterworks is awaiting a final invoice from CoBar Contracting, according to general manager Jake Short.

The latest estimated cost was around $487,000, thousands more than the original bid price of $436,000.

The original deadline was Jan. 1.

The waterline work was substantially completed on June 4, five months behind schedule. CoBar recently finished some punch-list items and cleanup.

The water department withheld $6,000 for six days of delays from the contractor.

Short said his office had wanted to withhold 24 days, or $24,000, from CoBar, but decided on the six days in order to avoid the hassle of a lawsuit that would further delay the project.

He said the department believed that decision was the best one that could be made for both parties.

Short said the state would reimburse the city for the total cost of the project.

Charles Tankersley of CoBar did not immediately return a call.

But he earlier blamed the delay on the water department’s plans and changes to the project.

Short said the water department requested four changes and gave the contractor extensions to complete them.