Extension of Water Street remains closed
City officials will know later this week when an eastward extension of East Water Street that would stretch the two-lane road to Carlton Avenue might be ready to be opened to vehicles.
The new road, which is about a third of a mile long, was largely completed by contractor ECI Construction in December, but the city is not ready to accept it as a public street.
“The developer needs to make sure the roadway is to standard prior to the city accepting it into the city system,” said Missy Creasy, the interim director of the department of neighborhood development services. “If the road were to open and have concerns, the citizens would have to pay through tax dollars to correct and we want to minimize the chances of that occurring.”
The road itself was constructed as part of the City Walk apartment complex that ECI Construction and the Metzger Company built after approvals were secured by Riverbend Development. Riverbend also is planning to build 24 single-family homes on the northern side of the new road.
While the street itself was paid for by the developer, the City Council in January 2014 approved the spending of $365,525 to include more than 100 trees, bike-friendly tree grates and 17 on-street parking spaces.
A multi-use pathway is open to cyclists and pedestrians on the southern side of the street and a traditional sidewalk is on the northern side. A black fence separates the new corridor from the railroad tracks.
However, a blue sign at the intersection of 10th Street Southeast and Water Street was erected in December that states the extension has not yet been accepted as part of the city’s street network.
In April, the city provided a list of 60 items on a “punch list” that were to have been finished by June 1. Afterward, the city had the right to put a call on bonds the developer had to pay before work on the project could begin. Proceeds from the bonds could be used to help pay another contractor to complete the work.
The city last updated the punch list on May 18. At that time, 32 of the items had been completed, seven were not complete, and 21 needed further review by city engineers to ensure compliance.
Items that remain incomplete include installation of street lights on East Water Street, placement of speed limit and no parking signs, repairs to concrete in some locations and the replacement of dead or distressed trees.
Inspections also were still needed to see if broken bricks had been repaired, whether construction debris has been cleaned up and whether the westernmost tree south of the trail had been replanted. City engineers believed it was planted above grade, meaning its roots would not be adequately protected as the tree grows.
Creasy said the city will update the list later this week after performing a series of inspections. There also may be further items that need to be corrected following inspection of the storm drain system using remote cameras.
“The city is most concerned with the condition of infrastructure under the roadway,” Creasy said.
Seth Greenberg, the chief executive officer of ECI Construction, said the road has been delayed because the city’s standards for accepting roads changed since the project was first approved.
“What we’re doing now is being as cooperative as we can to make sure we’re in compliance,” Greenberg said. “We want the road open and the city wants the road open, but we want to make sure that it’s correct.”
One of the co-owners of Beer Run, a restaurant located in the Woolen Mills Pointe shopping center at the eastern edge of the road, has other concerns.
John Woodriff said the recent expansion of a sidewalk on Meade Avenue is taking away potential parking spaces for his business.
“They shifted the lanes over and so parking on the west side of Meade Avenue is no longer available,” Woodriff said. Construction of the expanded sidewalk is now underway, which means parking on the eastern side of the street is banned temporarily.
Woodriff said he is hoping the city eventually will control the on-street parking spaces on the new section of East Water Street by restricting them to two-hour spots.
Chris Engel, the city’s economic development director, said it has not yet been decided how the public parking spaces on East Water Street will be controlled.