Delays continue for the Rea Road widening project

Delays continue for the Rea Road widening project

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by TONY BURBECK/ NBC Charlotte

WCNC.com

Posted on February 21, 2014 at 6:14 PM

Updated Friday, Feb 21 at 7:20 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Ongoing problems, bad weather and a lack of crews at the scene are fueling frustrations over the $22.5 million dollar Rea Road widening project.

The stretch between Carmel Estates Road and Highway 51 was supposed to be finished last fall, city officials said. But that stretch remains unfinished months later.  

"We've kind of given up,” said neighbor Kelly McCafferty, who lives on Rea Road. “They’re a little late.”

Instead of a median, sidewalk and bike lane, McCafferty's view from her front porch includes cones and equipment.

"The dirt and the mud,” she added.

The widening is meant to alleviate congestion and eliminate sight distance problems.

However, utility problems have plagued progress for months.  Officials say AT&T ran into complications last fall relocating 550 feet of underground utility lines and duct work.

An email from the city project manager to neighbors wanting answers about the delays includes apparent frustration over AT&T’s progress.

"The City is still trying to influence their progress with little or no significant results,” the email said.

Officials hope the utility problems are fixed in the next 6 weeks.

AT&T issued this statement Friday about the Rea Road project:

“We are aware of the urgent nature of the Rea Road widening project and have expedited the relocation of AT&T communication cables so the city of Charlotte can move forward with its work. Recent snow and rain storms have complicated the process, but we’ve dedicated additional resources to the job and are working extended hours.”

Another problem in that same stretch is the contractor is behind schedule and facing what the city calls “liquidated damages.”  

"At least they're being punished for it because we are being punished for it waiting for them,” McCafferty said.

AT&T is not incurring fines because they are a utility and not the contractor, officials said.

McCafferty and other neighbors say they go days without seeing any work done.

"We haven't seen them since Christmas or maybe before Christmas. I know it's been bad weather, but there have been days where they could have been out here working,” she said.

There is a bright spot despite the ongoing frustration.

The second part of the widening project along Rea Road from Carmel Estates Road to Colony Road is months ahead of schedule.

City officials say when you combine the status of work on done on both sides the entire project will be finished on schedule by this fall.

The question is how much patience McCafferty and her neighbors can muster in the meantime.

"It's very frustrating.  Around rush hour you can’t even get out in this traffic.”

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