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Lewis St. pavement will wait for spring

Residents living on the 100 block of Lewis Street have expressed frustration at the progress — or lack thereof — construction has taken on that portion of the street.

In May, the Pagosa Springs Town Council approved financing for the project that put the town on the hook for $1.6 million for 10 years. Although construction was slated to begin early this summer, problems with building the financing package pushed mobilization of construction crews out to late summer.

According to a report presented by Town Planner James Dickhoff Tuesday during the December council meeting, “The financing for the project was delayed two months from the original secured financing date due to misinformation from the original financial institution’s (Wells Fargo) representative we were working with, which eventually dictated beginning negotiations with another financial institution.”

In July, council approved financing through All American Investment Group.

At Tuesday’s council meeting, that issue was cited as one of several issues that has left some Lewis Street residents with a gravel road instead of the pavement that had been scheduled for completion prior to the first snowfall. As well, promised sidewalk improvements remain unfinished as construction has been essentially halted throughout the remainder of winter.

Trustee Kathie Lattin said on Tuesday that she had received complaints from constituents regarding the pace of the project. Several other board members also said they had received complaints.

However, Mike Davis of Davis Engineering (lead engineer on the project) told council that general and subcontractors could not be faulted for the delays due to numerous issues that had hobbled progress on the project.

As previously stated, problems with financing for the project pushed out full mobilization until Sept. 10 — well past the proposed start date.

While financing was being decided, contractors took other work during that period, further delaying the start date.

Also, Dickhoff stated that several previously unknown underground utilities had been located at the First Street intersection, as well as, “Some known utilities required deferred maintenance related repairs from their respective entity and new underground storm lines dictated rerouting some utilities at this intersection. A change order for extra excavation work due to unknown utility locations is expected.”

Davis added that a wet early autumn had further added to delays.

“We are disappointed that the street wasn’t paved,” Davis told council, adding that, “It’s not the contractors’ fault at all, it was due to circumstances.”

Davis said that the street had been “double graveled” for the remainder of winter.

Dickhoff reported that, “It has been determined that applying asphalt will wait till the spring of 2012 due to current average daily temperatures. Work will continue on sidewalk and accesses to properties along the south side of the street and storm sewer connections at Second Street.”

Davis added that previously identified drainage issues have been addressed.

Trustee Stan Holt asked Davis if contractors could also do other things not weather-dependent, such as tree removal (out of the right of way), while crews await construction season in the spring.

Davis said that contractors would continue work on those kinds of tasks throughout the winter.

In conclusion, Dickhoff said that Davis Engineering and town staff had met with contractors to prioritize work for next year.

“They need to complete work adjacent to the school prior to school starting,” Davis said, referring to the portion of Lewis Street between Third and Fourth streets.

And while the incomplete work is certainly an inconvenience to several residents living on Lewis Street, Dickhoff assured council that the work would be completed in a timely fashion and that, “In general, town staff believes that the contractor is, and will be, constructing a quality project.”

jim@pagosasun.com

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