Sunday, March 05, 2000

Road project never seems to end

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MASON — Assistant City Engineer David Riggs has been hearing the complaints for weeks.

        The closing of a 1-mile stretch of Mason-Montgomery Road near U.S. 42 has caused major headaches for residents in northern Mason. Part of the road was blocked off last April when contractors began work on a $2.7 million bridge replacement and road widening project.

        City engineers hoped to reduce bottlenecks on Mason-Montgomery Road near the Indiana and Ohio Bridge by widening it to three lanes. The project also involved replacing the railroad overpass bridge and lowering the road to provide more height under the bridge.

        The project was expected to take six months. But delays due to poor weather, bad soil deposits and complications with water, sewer and electrical lines, have turned it into an 11-month nightmare for some residents.

        Karen Volpe, who lives on Larkspur Lane, knows first-hand the frustration detour signs scattered along Mason-Montgomery and Bethany roads can generate. The two-year resident said the prolonged project has made her feel isolated and inconvenienced.

        City engineers say the project was bumped off schedule early on when the railroad company demanded a temporary overpass be built to accommodate train traffic during the bridge replacement stage. Contractors later ran into more delays when they had difficulty locating and moving electrical, cable TV and water and sewer lines that ran underneath the bridge.

        “This has been a very complicated project for the city,” said Assistant City Manager Eric Hansen. “The problems that have occurred have been beyond the control of the city and beyond the control of the contractors.”

        Mr. Riggs expects even more griping in coming weeks. Though the bridge overpass is complete, construction crews need at least 15 to 20 days of dry weather before the foundation for the roadway can be laid and the project completed.

        With spring rains approaching, anything earlier than a summer completion date for the project seems unlikely.

        “We are working as fast as we can to get this project finished and limit the inconvenience for residents,” Mr. Riggs said. “It's not helping anyone out by continuing to have this road closed.

        “But once the project is finished, it will be a major traffic improvement for the area,” he added. “Hopefully, once it's all finished, people will look at the benefits of the project and not remember that it took a little extra time to get it done.”


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