Road repairs ahead of schedule

Work on West Street should finish in June

`As much as four weeks early'

Record snowstorm fails to hold up contractors


April 07, 2003|By Amanda J. Crawford | Amanda J. Crawford,SUN STAFF

The second phase of the $13.2 million utility replacement and road reconstruction on Annapolis' West Street is at least two weeks ahead of schedule and expected to be completed by early June, city officials said.

Despite the record snowfall this winter, the contractor -- encouraged by incentives of $2,000 a day to finish earlier than the contract completion date of July 8 -- has kept a steady pace.

"We've managed to hold the schedule and are at least two weeks ahead of schedule, maybe a little more," said Joseph A. Baker Jr., the city's chief of engineering and construction, who said the contractor, FMC Civil Construction Inc. of Cheverly, lost just two days because of snow. "It looks like it may be finished as much as four weeks early."

The project replaces aging water pipes under the road, which were installed in 1894 and 1879, Baker said. Workers also are burying or replacing sewer, electric and cable lines and rebuilding the road surface.

Construction crews are working to finish utility work on West Street between West Washington Street and the intersection with Calvert and Cathedral streets. They also will replace a sewer manhole in that intersection and an electric vault nearby on Cathedral Street. This work will entail sporadic closings or traffic limits during the next month, Baker said.

Workers also are excavating and replacing the roadway of West Washington Street. That street is expected to reopen to traffic in about two weeks, Baker said.

A second contractor, C&F Construction Co. of Washington, is replacing brick sidewalks along West Street. Once the final surface coat of pavement is complete on West and West Washington streets, brick crosswalks will be installed.

Phase Two began in mid-October. Phase One, which began at Westgate Circle, was completed in January last year.

West Street business owner Jim Martin, whose store's basement flooded when a water main broke during construction and whose awning was struck by a construction vehicle, says he thinks Phase Two has gone much better than the first phase.

During Phase One, alternating one-way traffic and other problems with a different contractor drew the ire of business owners, residents and commuters.

During Phase Two, traffic was restricted one way only temporarily.

"Yes, it has been inconvenient. Yes, we have lost some business, and yes, it's been difficult for some of my customers," said Martin, owner of Free State Press at 79 West St.

"But my business turns 30 years old this month, and we are delighted that the city will give us this big new birthday present of a new sidewalk and a new street. How could I be unhappy? I think it is great."

Baker said the city has ensured that businesses and residents were better informed during this construction phase. Martin praised the city for hiring an engineer to oversee the construction and to work with residents and businesses.

"I think this phase has gone a lot more smoothly than the previous phase because we have spent a lot more time communicating with the businesses," Baker said.

After this phase is finished, work will halt for almost a year until after the legislative session ends in April next year.

Then work will focus on the first block of West Street, from Church Circle to Calvert and Cathedral streets.

The street will be closed to most traffic for about six months, Baker said.

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