Finish line on the horizon for Laurel bridge project
LAUREL, Del. – One of Laurel’s bridges has been closed for more than a year because DelDOT says the contractor has hit a few bumps in the road. But there’s finally a finish line on the horizon and DelDOT isn’t letting the contractor off easy.
“As of June 28th, they’ve been assessed penalties $1,060 a day for each day they are not completed,” says George Pierce, the area engineer with DelDOT.
The Central Avenue Bridge in Laurel, near Pizza King, was closed in May 2018 and almost 15 months later it is still being worked on.
“We originally advertised the contract, we were supposed to be finished with the Central Avenue bridge by January 26th,” says Pierce.
DelDOT says the contractor was given a six month extension because, like any project, they uncovered things they weren’t necessarily expecting. “We had some issues there which pushed us into a stream restriction. So cumulatively we ended up with a six months time extension which put the completion at June 28th,” says Pierce.
But officials say there haven’t been any roadblocks since the extension. “There’s been minor things that we’ve had to look into that were unforeseen but nothing a-typical for a project like this,” says Pierce.
Locals agree that the project has taken much longer than it should have. “I just think think the town or the officials could have vetted this company a little more. Or perhaps gotten a different contracting company because it seems to have been one problem after the next and nobody seems to be able to explain it,” says George H. Wright, a Laurel resident and business owner.
But they tell 47 ABC, the closure hasn’t caused many issues for them. “As far as the traffic flow goes, it hasn’t bothered the businesses on the main string because if they don’t use that bridge, guess what? They go this route,” says Wright.
DelDOT tells 47 ABC once things are finally finished here in September, they might have to do some touch up work. But they still plan to open the bridge and lift the detour for drivers by then.
Since the contractor pays a fee for every day that they’re past the completion date, that means by the time everything is said and done the contractor could be paying almost $90-thousand in late fees.