Winter snags county project


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Frigid temperatures and a longer-than-anticipated winter may cause snags for one Johnson County construction plan.

Construction on a new Secondary Roads Facility, 4810 Melrose Ave., to replace the facility that burned in a fire in March 2013, is facing some unexpected obstacles because of this season’s icy conditions.

For the first time in years, Johnson County has a projected three to four layers of frost below ground, which makes digging and pouring concrete extra intensive. In addition, the presence of asbestos in the old facility has been detected and its removal is necessary.

Despite the setbacks, construction manager Michael Kennedy plans to start the project this week. At the Johnson County Board of Supervisors meeting earlier this month, Kennedy said the project is crucial and work needs to begin sooner rather than later.

“It’s worth doing a little extra work in the frost to get the project going,” he said. “I don’t want to hold up anybody; I’d like to accelerate the project.”

Working through the frost and the unanticipated asbestos will raise the cost, he said, but it is unavoidable and must be dealt with.

Because of an unusual number of winter-related services, 45, and large list of projects, including repaving the Mehaffey Bridge Road, the supervisors are concerned about the cost increase.

Supervisor Terrence Neuzil said $1 million of the now estimated $4 million project would be reimbursed through insurance, yet this may still not completely remedy the problem.

“This is something we’ll manage within our existing budget and fiscal ’15 budget, but the potential for a future project having to be put on hold is likely, but we won’t know for sure until we see the damage this causes,” he said.

Supervisor Rod Sullivan noted the need to begin work promptly.

“We don’t have any choice; this is a necessary building, and we have to do it in a timely fashion,” he said. “We hope it comes in lower than expected, but you never know until it goes.”

As of now, the project will start with the removal of asbestos and relocation of an on-site cold shed to a more practical location. Kennedy informed the supervisors he will be able to effectively oversee the project because a camera has been installed on the Secondary Roads’ office. The camera may also be accessible by the public to see the progress of the project.

The supervisors intend to have a representative from Secondary Roads come to every meeting in order to give continual updates and trouble-shoot any problems that may arise.

Kennedy said workers are eager to start.

“We shouldn’t lose any time over it with the way things are going; everyone is anxious to get out and work on it after the long winter,” he said.

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