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More delays hit project on Oak Harbor Street

Todd Proudlock and Malcolm Sams of Potelco Inc, a contractor for Puget Sound Energy, remove a power pole on North Oak Harbor Street Thursday. The pole had been hindering the completion of the new sidewalks.  - Justin Burnett/Whidbey News-Times
Todd Proudlock and Malcolm Sams of Potelco Inc, a contractor for Puget Sound Energy, remove a power pole on North Oak Harbor Street Thursday. The pole had been hindering the completion of the new sidewalks.
— image credit: Justin Burnett/Whidbey News-Times

Oak Harbor city officials are now saying it will be at least two or three more weeks before the North Oak Harbor Street project is wrapped up.

Most of the major work has been completed, according to City Engineer Eric Johnston, but there have been a few more delays since the major setbacks in August and the remaining work could take as long as one month to complete.

“It’s in the death throes,” Johnston joked while giving a status report before the Public Work Standing Committee at its 7 a.m. meeting Thursday morning.

The project has already been beset with delay. In August, island-medians installed at the intersections of Crosby and Seventh Avenue, along with up to 700 feet of new sidewalk, had to be torn up and replaced. The island-medians made it hard for large vehicles to turn left and the sidewalks were not built to specifications.

The $1.54 million project began in March and was scheduled to be done at the end of July. Already behind schedule at the time, Johnston said last month that the project would likely be finished before the end of August although a few final touches, such as road stripping and cleanup, could extend the work into early September. However, he told the standing committee that several new issues have extended the completion date somewhat.

One of the holdups, which had nothing to do with the contractor, Anacortes-based GG Construction, revolves around a power pole on the west side of the street. Located right in the path of the new sidewalk, the pole needed to be removed but there was some dispute among utility companies who owned it, Johnston said.

There was also a problem that concerned mailboxes. It’s the contractor’s responsibility to reinstall them and the post office had an issue about their placement, Johnston said. The issue has since been resolved.

Although the majority of the work has been done, including the laying of asphalt and the installation of “95 percent” of the sidewalks, the work that’s left is time consuming. For example, certain parts of road striping can only be done after the new asphalt has set for a period of time. Some of the iron work, such as manhole covers and water valves, also has to be done later.

During Thursday’s meeting, city councilman and standing committee member Scott Dudley said he was unhappy about both the progress of the project and the problems that have arisen. He said he wished city staff had provided more details about what was to be done.

“I felt in the dark about this,” Dudley said.

Fellow councilman and standing committee member Rick Almberg said that detailed plans had been presented to both the public and the council, but that may have happened before Dudley was elected as this project has been in the works since the 1990s.

He also asked for confirmation that the contractor was being subjected to what’s known as “liquidated damages,” which essentially are fines for missing the completion deadline. Johnston confirmed GG Construction has been paying approximately $3,000 per day since July 28.

But the continued delay after five months of construction isn’t the only thing rankling people. Most of the grumbling from the public is focused on the sidewalks on the west side of the street. Some have complained that they don’t match, as they are black while the sidewalks on the other side of the street are white.

Still others say it’s not user friendly. A man in a wheelchair, who asked not to be identified, said he doesn’t like using it because it leaves a sticky substance on his wheels which ends up on his hands.

City councilman and standing committee member Danny Paggao asked about the color difference at Thursday’s meeting.

Johnston said it was designed to be a multipurpose sidewalk, for use by pedestrians and bicyclists. The material, which is pervious asphalt, manages storm water better and is cheaper than concrete. As for the stickiness, that’s common for new asphalt and will go away soon.

Community Events, April 2014

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