The 16 blocks of Allen Street that have been under steady construction since Spring will be wrapping up sometime in November.
The exact completion date should be Nov. 16, if Paul-Wertenberger Construction Inc., Hays, meets its contractual deadline with the city, said John Braun, project manager for the city of Hays.
“I think they have a good chance of making it, but probably with no time to spare,” Braun said. “Time is running out.”
Record rains in June and July have definitely slowed progress on the $2.4 million project, said Matt Allen, project manager/estimator with Paul-Wertenberger Construction, the prime contractor.
The contractor and their seven sub-contractors are tearing out the old street, the curb and gutter, the sidewalk and the buried waterline, and replacing all of it with new. About 25 laborers are at work every day on the street.
“We lost at least two weeks with the wettest summer I can remember in years,” Allen said.
The company only has two-and-a-half blocks left to go. Those blocks are brick streets that will be going back to concrete, he said.
“We should cross 13th by the end of next week,” Allen said. “Basically from 13th to the railroad tracks is what we have left to complete.”
Each block takes about three to four weeks. Paul-Wertenberger started south of the railroad tracks, and then jumped up north to proceed the rest of the way south. For each block, crews tear out the old street and curb and gutter, then pour new curb and gutter, followed by the paving lanes. After heavy rains, construction workers use a sump pump to gather all the puddled water and drain it into the stormwater system.
“There have been some days we were just pumping water all day,” Allen said, adding that rain also delayed pouring concrete.
The contract with the city includes a built-in allowance for expected weather days. If there’s more bad weather than expected, then those days are added in, extending the completion date without penalty. The contract calls for damages of $1,500 a day if the contractor is to blame for going past Nov. 16.
“I feel like they’ve been giving it their best effort,” Braun said. “Obviously we will be disappointed. There are penalties. How severely they will be enforced is yet to be determined, based on whether they were negligent, poor time management or circumstances beyond their control.”
The record rains this summer could be a contributing factor, he said.
“We’ll see if they hit it or miss it,” Braun said. “Then the due diligence is on them to justify it.”
Allen is what the city calls a major collector road, carrying between 2,000 and 4,000 vehicles per day, according to city documents. The project has been a little unusual compared to other street repairs.
“It was unique in that we were only allowed to take two consecutive blocks at a time,” Allen said, “so the majority of residents still had access through the side streets.”
At this point the contractor expects to make the deadline.
“That’s still our goal,” Allen said. “If it comes down to not making the contractual deadline, we’ll request an add-on for weather delay. That would be no cost to the city.”