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Home » News » Utility Delays Plague Road Improvement Projects

Utility Delays Plague Road Improvement Projects

August 23, 2014

By Mallory Ragon

The Orchard Street project is still being delayed by utility companies, the public works committee heard at their August 19 meeting. EmersySapp is the city’s contractor for the project; Scott Eason, project manager, gave an update as requested by the committee.

Though the city began meeting with utility companies as early as January to coordinate the project and anticipated a start date no later than July 1, Kansas City Power and Light (KCPL) started their utility relocation work on August 11 and AT&T just mobilized this week. The project is still waiting on Missouri

Gas Energy (MGE) and construction is now slated to begin in mid-September.

Due to the delays, the NE Orchard Street improvement project will be split into two phases: eastward from Magnolia Street this year and westward to Douglas Street from Applewood Street to be completed in 2015.

The tree removal and right-of-way acquisition necessary for the project has already been completed.

The committee also voted to approve a change order to the city’s contract with Beemer Construction Company, Inc., who is completing the NE Country Lane storm water improvement project. As Scott Edgar, senior staff engineer, explained, this project has also been delayed by utility companies. The revised contract increased by almost $32,000 to a total cost of just over $1.1 million, and from 162 days to 164 days for completion.

Current construction projects at Bailey Road and Colbern Road have also been on hold this summer pending utility delays.

Councilmember Diane Forte asked both Eason and Edgar what the council could do to help speed things up, but unfortunately there wasn’t an easy answer.

“It’s been a battle as long as I’ve been here,” said Bob Hartnett, deputy director of public works.

“Sometimes it’s better; sometimes it’s worse.”

Hartnett cited recent high turnover of staff at both KPCL and AT&T, making it difficult to maintain relationships and ensure continuous and open lines of communication.

He also noted that the downside to getting out too far ahead with utility work is the inconvenience to property owners, who see their yards and driveways torn up during the work, and changes in cost as in the Country Lane project.

“When you’re working in a developed area, every project has utilities,” Edgar added.

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