The City of Lufkin’s ongoing
downtown street and utilities improvement project is about 22 percent
complete-if progress is judged solely on the amount of money spent and the
number of contract days worked, that is. The installation of new
sidewalks, lighting and additional landscaping currently stands at about
13 percent complete using the same criteria.
The City's estimates of
actual progress, however, indicate the contractor responsible for
reconstructing a nine-block area of city sidewalks, streets, storm
drainage, sewer and water lines is going to miss the scheduled September
2004 completion date by at least two months and maybe more.
For instance. Workers will run
across water and sewer lines that have been capped off, don’t seem to
connect to anything or weren’t laid out as depicted on older city maps.
Work has to stop while engineers figure what’s connected to what, or what
isn’t connected at all.
Concrete foundations from
buildings that were torn down decades ago are also being discovered, and
have to be torn out in order to continue. With about 150 years of Lufkin
history buried beneath downtown streets, workers and engineers alike are
finding new problems almost daily.
Poor soil conditions have also
been a major concern. Engineers expected some problems with the
soil-early testing found some of the problems-but didn’t expect anything
like the extensive problems they’ve found when concrete streets were
ripped up. In some cases, the “bad” soil has to be removed entirely and
replaced with soil that can hold up to the construction being placed on
top of it.
Rain has caused headaches for
Simon Traylor & Sons. The City has counted an actual of 84 rain days
since the project began, this when the contractor only requested 134 rain
days for the entire 540-day construction schedule. The delays, combined
with the soil problems and the unexpected maze of old underground
utilities, means the scheduled September 2004 completion date likely won’t
The newly-projected November
2004 completion date probably won’t happen either. Unless things go
really well in the other phases, the City doesn't think they’ll meet their
contract. The City has made some adjustments to try and overcome
that, but know they are going to run into more unknown situations and
weather delays… so we look for that (two-month period) to grow.
Although slow, progress has
been made, however. Now that a portion of Burke Avenue has a driving
surface down, brick-style sidewalks installed and antique-style light
fixtures erected, the city is working with the contractor to speed up
construction of the other streets.