South Charlotte residents will have to wait a few months longer until construction on a major corridor is complete, and some city staff are concerned the wait could be even longer.
Improvements to Rea Road, a crucial stretch for south Charlotte commuters in Ballantyne and some parts of Union County, have been underway since July 2012. The contract with Triangle Grading and Paving of Burlington originally was for 26 months.
The transportation project will include two travel lanes divided by a planted median with left-turn lanes, bicycle lanes, a curb and gutter and sidewalk on both sides of the road. Improvements also will include a right-turn lane at N.C. 51/Pineville-Matthews Road.
Workers already have shifted lanes on Rea Road. Imad Fakhreddin, Engineering Senior Project Manager with Charlotte, said the main work left is to remove the old pavement and raise the grade to the level of the new pavement. Also, the contractor needs to put in curbs, gutters, sidewalks and pavement on the west side of the road, and build the medians.
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The Rea Road project, budgeted for $22.5 million, also will eliminate sight-distance problems for those turning into and out of subdivisions.
“This is going to become a more complete street,” said Felix Obregon, Charlotte Department of Transportation Senior Project Manager. “It’s going to have a different feeling, it’s going to be more aesthetically pleasing, and it’s going to become more comfortable for all the different modes of transportation.”
Fakhreddin thanked residents for their patience, which he said is under budget. “We’re looking forward to when the contract is completed,” he said. “We hope by the end of construction, this will be a beautiful-looking area with sidewalks and plantings and extra bike lanes and more.”
Although the project was expected to be complete in September, the contractor told city staff it likely would not be finished before December.
Fakhreddin said the contractor listed weather and utility relocations as reasons for the delay.
“We are reviewing the reasons he submitted,” said Fakhreddin. “We’re evaluating his schedule to see if liquidated damages will be assessed. That’s basically a penalty for every day he’s behind schedule.”
Fakhreddin said he’s concerned the contractor won’t meet the December deadline, either.
“He didn’t say it might be later than December, but we’re reviewing the schedule and monitoring progress,” he said. “We have reservations about that just because the progress is not in line with the schedule he submitted.”
Fakhreddin said even the first phase of the project, which runs between N.C. 51 and Carmel Estates and was scheduled to be finished in September 2013, hasn’t been completed.
The second phase runs north of Carmel Estates to Colony Road.
For now, Fakhreddin said, the city has plans to landscape a section of the project between N.C. 51 and Carmel Estates to make it more aesthetically pleasing. He said the city will plant trees and shrubs as part of a separate city contract that will cost between $250,000 and $350,000.
“We are extremely frustrated and we really want to finish this project more than any other thing,” said Fakhreddin. “This project is our priority for us to finish it, and we understand the complaints and suffering of the area residents just waiting for this project to be complete.”