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MJ Road extension considered by TDOT
Dec 10, 2004 12:00 am
State officials say they are "leaning" toward granting a road contractor an eight-month extension to finish the Mt. Juliet Road widening project because of extensive delays in relocating utilities.
According to state records, some utility relocation was not finalized until as late as November despite a Sept. 30 deadline for contractor Hoover Inc. to finish the project.
In addition, the relocation of a City of Mt. Juliet sewer line has also been one of the delays on the project according to Hoover, something city government leaders dispute.
Tennessee Department of Transportation spokesperson Kim Keelor said the state is considering whether or not to honor Hoover's request to extend their deadline to April 30, eight months after the original completion deadline.
Keelor said this week Hoover encountered delays beyond their control related to utility relocation along the city's major thoroughfare.
"No decision has been made yet, but we are leaning toward granting it because of the utility delays that are not the contractor's fault," Keelor said.
The delays are addressed in a Nov. 17 letter from Hoover to a TDOT project manager in Gallatin regarding an original extension request for June 9, 2005.
In the letter obtained by the newspaper from TDOT under the state's Public Records Law, Hoover officials detail "utility conflict delays" including construction of a new water line and relocation of telephone lines resolved in August, relocation of gas lines finished in October and relocation of power lines wrapped up in November.
The letter also lists as a delay a new city sewer line at the corner of Mt. Juliet Road and Old Lebanon Dirt Road.
According to the Hoover letter and Keelor, a traffic signal pole on the east side of the intersection would sit directly over the city's sewer line.
Mt. Juliet City Manager Rob Shearer said last week sometime in mid-November he was informed by the Gallatin TDOT project manager final paving and striping of the new road would not take place until April.
He also referred to the city sewer line as "one small issue," saying it should not alone delay the project. According to Shearer, the city had moved its sewer line a year and a half ago.
Keelor this week said the line had been moved, but the new location was in conflict with the signal pole.
Mt. Juliet Mayor Linda Elam in a written statement sent to the newspaper Tuesday said the city sewer issue was not an impediment to Hoover finishing the job.
"Relocation of the City sewer was completed long ago and in a timely manner," Elam stated. "Sewer relocation work has not caused any delay in the completion of this project. There is a small issue that remains unresolved concerning the relocated sewer line and the signal pole at Mt. Juliet Road and Old Lebanon Dirt Road. … A proposed redesign has been submitted and is under review by the TDOT structures division. If the redesign of the footer is approved, installation of the signal pole takes only a few days of construction work."
The issue over the delays in widening Mt. Juliet Road made regional news after the Mt. Juliet City Commission passed a resolution Nov. 29 that in part urged TDOT to "enforce all construction deadlines" on the project.
The resolution, sponsored by Elam, also drew measured response from TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicley, who spoke in Mt. Juliet the next day. Nicely referred to the press coverage and cited the five different utilities that had to be relocated for the project.
Elam in her written statement also said the resolution took into account the possibility there were delays beyond the contractor's control.
"As we have stated before, the City understands that there may have been situations concerning utility relocation and weather that were beyond the control of the contractor," Elam stated. "If the extension sought by the contractor is allowed by the contract, it should be granted. If not, the City has requested, via its unanimous resolution, that the contract deadlines be enforced."