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Roundabout contractor misses deadline again

Work on a roundabout at Shepherd Street and Erkwood Drive, shown Sunday, Dec. 1, has closed Greenville Highway since July 17. Work on a roundabout at Shepherd Street and Erkwood Drive, shown Sunday, Dec. 1, has closed Greenville Highway since July 17.

A contractor has missed a third deadline to reopen Greenville Highway but the NCDOT said the contractor is "cautiously optimistic" that the road could open by Dec. 13.

Originally scheduled to be closed to traffic from July 17 to Oct. 17, the main link between Hendersonville and Flat Rock remains blocked off to through traffic between Brooklyn Avenue and Highland Lake Road for the roundabout project, which aligns Erkwood Drive and Shepherd Street. NCDOT officials said in mid-October that the reopening would be delayed a week. When that failed to materialize, NCDOT spokesman David Uchiyama said the detour would remain in place through November. “The road closure has been extended through a supplemental agreement to Nov. 7, and there is a considerable amount of overrun items which grant additional time," he said.

Uchiyama has confirmed to the Lightning that the contract subjects the contractor to liquidated damages for very day the work continues beyond the contract's completion date. It's unclear whether the Robbinsville-based contractor has requested or received any exceptions because of unforeseen problems.

At a French Broad Metropolitan Planning Organization on Oct. 24, Division 14 Engineer Brian Burch told Henderson County Commissioner Bill Lapsley that a sewer line problem was one cause for the delay at the time.

“I said, ‘Are there issues?’ He said when they installed the sewer line, the contractor put it in properly but apparently the soil was so soft that the sewer line settled so they’re going to have to redo it and as I suspected they’re doing a change order,” Lapsley said. Burch told Lapsley the contractor was not at fault and that DOT engineers had inspected the line before crews covered it with dirt. "Once they put all the dirt back on top it and tested the line it had a big sag in it," Lapsley said then.

Crews have installed curb and guttering around the roundabout, completed some pavements and erected new light poles but it appears much work remains. There was some work going on at the site on Friday after Thanksgiving but the numerous construction machines were idle on Sunday. NCDOT officials have told Flat Rock Village Council members that the contractor will have more work to do on the roundabout even when Greenville Highway reopens.

On Monday, Uchiyama said a paving subcontractor completed "incidental milling" last week. "If all goes well," the contractor "should be pouring islands late this week," he said. "We’re cautiously optimistic we may have it open by the end of the second week of December."
Cost of the project is $3.5 million. "Liquidated damages may be determined at the conclusion" of the job, Uchiyama said.