Déjà Vu on Del Monte
Road gets laid twice in two months.
Thursday, February 5, 2004
Someone screwed up. The road repair project in front of the Naval Postgraduate School on Del Monte Avenue in Monterey, begun way back on Oct. 6, was supposed to be finished by Christmas. But there was a mistake—in either the design or the construction, depending on who’s answering the questions. And so it could be another three weeks before the thing is fixed.
The first attempt at resurfacing four lanes of roadway began on Oct. 6, 2003 with an expected completion date of Dec. 27. But by Thanksgiving the city was issuing advisories that the road would not be completed on time because of a “structural failure of the newly paved road surface.” Testing of the road material was conducted from November into January.
Then, the entire eastbound section of road was torn up and laid again.
The city says it’s aiming to have the road back to four lanes by Feb. 20, and the new estimated project finish date is March 12.
According to Les Turnbeaugh, Monterey’s deputy public works director for engineering, it’s not clear who is responsible for the error. More to the point, he says it is not clear who will pay for the twice-laid road. “We are still determining that,” he says.
For years, the stretch of Del Monte Avenue between Sloat and Palo Verde has been one of the busiest roads in the area, and one of the bumpiest. El Niño flooding in 1998, combined with daily, heavy use, wore down the road, putting it on the repair schedule for late 2003. But the renovation got off to a bad start.
Turnbeaugh says it’s believed that the first attempt at paving the road failed due to a combination of less-than-permeable roadfill material, moisture from rain during the holiday season, and a paved surface that was not thick enough to carry the weight of traffic.
Whatever the cause, part of the 2,500-foot section collapsed when tested.
Because the fill material was not porous enough, Turnbeaugh says, rainwater did not drain and the relatively thin asphalt surface buckled.
The road project itself involves more than just a resurfacing. Street lights, a median and utilities near a new entrance access to the Naval Postgraduate School are also part of the program. The total cost is $1.5 million, paid for with a combination of local, state and federal money. Who will cough up the cost of the redone road—the city, the architect or the contractor—is currently being determined.
“That’s part of our discussions,” Turnbeaugh says. “We only plan on paying for what we think the city is responsible for. The city doesn’t buy things twice.”
As it is now, all four lanes are scheduled to be open by Feb. 20, but the rest of the work surrounding the project, including sidewalks, traffic signals, streetlights and landscaping, will take another month. The project general contractor, Graniterock-Pavex Construction was contacted this week for comment but declined to elaborate.
“I’m not going to comment on the problems,” Jim Keown, area manager for Pavex says.
Keown says Pavex hasn’t done its own evaluation.
“We’ve gone out and repaved it,” he says. “As for the ultimate reason for the failure, the city is doing some engineering analysis.”
Area merchants are not happy about the extended project. Although she could not quantify the effect in dollars and cents, Annbritt Outzen, owner of Europa Design, a furniture showroom on Del Monte, says the project has been a headache.
“We’ve certainly all felt it,” Outzen says. “It’s a mess. It’s noisy. The customers that come in have all commented.”
After circling the block to try to find out how to get to the store, some have joked that they deserve a prize for making it inside, she says.
Because the store had moved, from a former location on the bay side of Del Monte to a large building across the street, and did not have a history in its present location, Outzen could not say for certain the project had a definite direct effect on business.
“It certainly hasn’t been the way to start in a new location,” Outzen says.
For Marilyn Buck, owner of Cottage Burlwood on Del Monte, the project has been a nightmare.
“It’s just horrible,” she says. “They started in the first week of October and ripped up the street. In November they opened up a lane of traffic and the road crumbled. Then nobody did anything for a month while they were trying to figure out who was responsible and who would pay for it.”
Buck says that prior to the project, she had 25 to 30 customers a day, many of whom would wander in from the neighboring tire shop while their cars were under repair. Now Buck gets maybe four or five walk-ins a day. She’s complained to the city.
“It’s really been awful,” she says. “They [the city] assure me when the road gets fixed, it will all be wonderful, but it’s going on six months now.”