By James Hanlon
Leader Staff Writer
Four and a half months in, the M-24 construction project is slipping behind schedule as the Nov. 15 deadline approaches.
With the east side of M-24 now paved, crews have begun work on the west side of the highway after southbound traffic was shifted over to the east side Aug. 28.
The shift will remain in effect for the remainder of the M-24 project. Heading south, the traffic shift transitions to the left side of the highway between Broadway and Ensley streets. It switches back to the right side just north of Drahner Rd.
Northbound traffic continues to be prohibited between Drahner Rd. and Gateway Dr., while southbound traffic is still restricted to one lane.
There is no new detour route for this traffic switch, since a single lane of southbound traffic will always be maintained. The regular detour route, directing northbound traffic through Glaspie St., will continue.
Beginning at Drahner Rd. and working north, crews have been removing the pavement of the southbound lanes and installing water mains. This week they begin installing a Township sanitary sewer service line.
For motorists trying to access the Oxford Marketplace strip mall, an official cut-through back-entrance has been added from Glaspie St.
In the downtown area, new sidewalks have been poured. Beginning in front of Oxford Bank, decorative brickwork skirts between the sidewalk and the street.
Refurbished lampposts have been reinstalled and structural soil has been added to planting beds in the sidewalk where new trees will be planted as part of the streetscape design.
There have been reports of folks walking or biking through the fresh concrete sidewalks. Pedestrians are asked to stay off the sidewalks until the barricades and caution tape are removed. Footprints and tire tracks in the cement will cause delays in the project since the concrete will have to be removed and re-poured.
The project is “about three weeks behind, give or take,” according to MDOT Engineer, Brian Travis. “Things sort of ebb and flow out there.”
Travis is hopeful the interim traffic shift will help buy back some time. “Especially if that sanitary (sewer line) can start going into the ground unimpeded without a whole lot of utility conflicts, I think we can make the time up.”
Travis pointed out that “the paving goes pretty quick” but the underground work takes the bulk of the time.
The contractor, Dan’s Excavating, Inc., is still required to finish the job by November 15. If they don’t finish by mid-November, the goal is to continue working. “Weather is always a wild card there; typically we can pave up until Thanksgiving if we’re not getting a lot of snow or a lot of cold temps, but we just don’t know.”
The most important thing is to restore traffic on M-24 in both directions. “If we have things to finish up next year, that’s fine. We don’t want to have traffic in this configuration all winter or anything like that. That’s our worst-case scenario and we’re doing everything we can to not let that happen,” Travis said.
By James Hanlon