Over the last 2 years we celebrated a string of grant hits with Federal, State and local awards that is akin to Dimaggio’s 56 game hitting streak or Cal Ripken’s record of 2,632 consecutive games played. Proof that great staff, when given the chance, can do great things.
That kind of run however doesn’t come without consequences. Like Dimaggio’s mental duress or Cal’s achy knees, there’s a price to be paid for success, and right now, if you drive around Kent at all, you’re feeling it.
As motorists contend with all the frustrating traffic detours, I’m sure a lot of them are saying Who’s the Genius that decided to do all this work at once? Out of instict I say the same thing until I catch a glimpse of myself in my rear view mirror and realize, uh, that would be me.
The truth is, we knew that managing all this construction work would place significant demands both on our staff to stay on budget and on schedule, and on our residents who would be facing extended detours zig zagging them everywhere except where they wanted to go — but we also knew that given the challenging state of our finances, the ability to leverage outside dollars to take care of some long-standing and much needed improvements made these deals worth making.
In fairness, our City Engineers have done a remarkable job at balancing all their construction management duties, including traffic flow. Commutes have been disrupted, and access to certain businesses in the middle of the construction zones has been impacted (please continue to support Diggers, they are open), but at the end of the day, maybe with a little more patience than usual, drivers are still safely getting to where they need to go which is the real measure of success for construction traffic plans.
If we want to share a common enemy as we sit in traffic, the real villain here is the weather. Rain may not seem as problemmatic as 8 inches of snow, but it can be, depending upon what’s lined up next in the construction schedule. For example, our City Engineer said that the contractor would probably have had all lanes of SR43 and Fairchild Avenue re-opened by now if it wasn’t for the incessant rain which has pushed off certain water sensitive tasks such as lane striping which is kind of important.
I didn’t start this post to make excuses, we take full responsibility for the traffic frustrations that we’ve created with one set of detours leading to another set of detours. We promise to continue to make changes as soon as possible and to limit the construction traffic impacts as much as possible but it’s sort of like losing weight — you actually have to endure the dieting part in order to get the thinner waistline.
The Fairchild/Crain Avenue bridge has had plenty of attention in the press and in coffee shops around town, so I think most people understand the challenges in the 43 corridor but what may be less well known is the work in the 59 corridor. Here’s a quick synopsis put out by our Engineers for why you’re finding yourself dodging orange cones on 59.
Construction of the existing traffic signals on SR 59 from Middlebury Road to Horning Road and one signal at S. Water Street (SR 43) and Summit Street is underway. Each traffic signal location will be rebuilt with new concrete foundations, pull boxes, conduit, supports and arms, signal heads with back plates, video detection cameras, audible pedestrian heads, push button detection, controllers, fiber optic interconnect and central system software. Additionally, handicapped ramps will be rebuilt at each of the affected intersections, a portion of the existing retaining wall at Midway Drive will be rebuilt and new sign supports will be installed. The existing traffic signals will remain in operation during the work.
Temporary lane closures on SR 59 and on S. Water Street are expected to occur but will be intermittent and will be removed the same day. No overnight closures are anticipated. Driveway and street access off of SR 59 and SR 43 will be maintained. The project is scheduled for completion by September 30, 2011.
As a side note, I was fired-up to see that in a couple of spots along SR59 where the contractors were busy working on the signal replacements, the staff had the contractor lay down some new sidewalk sections to connect those dead-ended sidewalks that for some reason had no sidewalk in place. Now we’ve got better sidewalk connectivity in a major pedestrian corridor. Nice job.