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Tradeport entrance gets another start
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With a $50,393 change order request on the table, Liberty County commissioners questioned why the engineering representative for a right turn lane on Islands Highway didn’t plan to avoid the problem.
Honor Hutton, with Thomas & Hutton Engineering explained, “in a nutshell,” the heavy rains recently showed poor drainage in the area.
“A bathtub was being created,” Honor said, explaining how water was seeping in the project’s sub-grade. “So it wasn’t that the ditches weren’t holding water… water was getting in the sub-grade trying to further damage of road after built,” Honor said.
“So you’re saying when you were engineering it, you didn’t see [that]?” Commissioner Eddie Walden asked. “If you hadn’t had any rain, you would have went with the [road] the way it was bid and it would have been wrong.”
“I have yet to see those ditches dry enough when there was no rain,” Commissioner Marion Stevens said. “How could that be something that someone overlooks?”
“It wasn’t that we didn’t know the soils were poor,” Hutton said, mentioning geologic studies. “We didn’t realize they wouldn’t drain at all.”
“Very often during construction processes… things come up, we see a problem that needs to be addressed,” Hutton said.
The Liberty County Development Authority had asked commissioners to take money for the change out of a revolving loan fund.
County Administrator Joey Brown explained the RLF is funded through grants and the state can take it back if it is not used.
“It is what it is,” Brown said. “It’s only loaned to those industries and they pay it back.”
“The money issue is not yours,” commission Chairman John McIver said. “The development authority is requesting the funds, that’s how I see it.”
The shoulders on Islands Highway had to be widened to create the additional turn lane and a drainage ditch put in along side the turning lane.
About a foot of existing pavement also was taken out to be milled.
The $1.9 million project was bid out four years ago to R.B. Baker Construction. And the contract has increased to reflect rising asphalt prices.
It needed to be rebid two years ago and it took about another two years to proceed in the project.
“There were many problems in getting right-of-way acquired,” Honor said, explaining how they could not start until they secured easements.
There was a motion and second on the table to postpone the decision until the mid-month meeting.
“If it’s not going to affect the project moving on for another 15 or so days, let’s put [it] on hold,” McIver said.
But there was discussion as to moving the project along.
“Bottom line, if we don’t award this, the road, it doesn’t get finished,” Commissioner Pat Bowen said. He said no work had been done in the last two months.
“This design was by Thomas & Hutton. They are the engineer,” Walden said. “We don’t want a sub-standard road for the public. I want it finished too, but part of this is an engineering problem.”
Commissioners agreed to cover the change order. Stevens was the only opposing vote.
“If we’re going to continue to spend money down there then let’s fix it,” Walden said.
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