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City still hopes to meet Fourth of July deadline
While running behind schedule on the Winslow Way project, the city still hopes the contractor will meet the city’s July 4 deadline to get the streets ready for the annual parade.
The city had initially planned to have both lanes of traffic open before the Fourth of July celebration, but its goal has been adjusted to have only the sidewalks and parking lanes poured.
Project manager Chris Wierzbicki said the city is about 14 days behind its first-phase goal to open the streets to travel and five days behind having the sidewalks and parking lanes ready.
If the construction isn’t finished by June 30, penalties will be paid by the contractor up to a maximum of $13,000, Wierzbicki said. The city expects to capture the full penalty from the construction team, since it is unlikely work will be finished.
Interim City Manager Brenda Bauer said she will investigate how the city can spend the penalty money it collects from the contractors. Since the funds were collected under contract, the city needs to determine if they are restricted. The construction team also had $900-per-day incentive to finish the project early.
Several councilors discussed an interest in using the funds in some form of a marketing or communication outreach since the city was not selected for the additional U.S. Rural Development Association $50,000 grant. Bauer is investigating that possibility.
On the bright side, Wierzbicki told council members Wednesday that downtown business owners had positive feedback at a recent business meeting about the Tucci & Sons construction team, and that sales reports were better than expected.
“One property owner, who has had several vacant store fronts, said as soon as the curbs were getting poured he started getting phone calls from potential renters for vacant spaces,” said Wierzbicki. “He has shown a couple spaces this week. It’s a good sign to see some positive action on vacancies.”
In other Winslow updates:
• All utilities on both sides of the street are finished;
• 80 percent of the curbs are poured up to the Virginia Mason Medical Clinic;
• The tree in the planter box in front of Town & Country will be transplanted at Waterfront Park in the next several days;
• Concrete sidewalk pours are currently scheduled for the week of June 20-27, and will subsequently close the front area of each business for approximately two days while the concrete cures. Pedestrians and shoppers will be re-routed to the back entrances of stores.
• The city is considering opening up westbound traffic on the north side of Winslow Way while it finishes the south side of the street.
• Wierzbicki said the city is using contingency funds, and will present a budget update once the first phase of the project is completed.