Almost 10 months after a Siesta Key resident first raised questions about problems with the 2010 resurfacing of Siesta Drive on the Key, the city announced Monday that the section of road in question will be repaved the night of July 25.
According to a city notice sent Monday to the Florida Department of Transportation, Siesta Drive from the north bridge to the Henson Bayou Bridge (commonly known as the “hump bridge”) will be reduced to one-lane traffic from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. July 25 for milling and resurfacing.
No signage will be put up on Siesta Drive until that day to alert motorists to the work, Mary Ellen Maurer, the project manager, told the Pelican Press Monday. “We’re just anticipating it being a one-night event.”
The Pelican first received a complaint about the asphalt when the city completed the $1.26-million drainage improvement and resurfacing project in late September 2010. At that time, Maurer told the Pelican that while the asphalt did not ride as smoothly, “it is designed to last longer.”
In subsequent months, Siesta Key Association board member Joe Volpe raised the issue at meetings, noting that because the asphalt “was basically laid put in four layers,” a groove ranging from about a half-inch to three-eighths inch deep had developed toward the outer edge of both the northbound and southbound lanes.
“I put a straight edge across it” to measure it, he added.
When he’s headed northbound, Volpe said, “I can actually take my hand off the (steering) wheel and feel the car tracking.”
Just to be sure, he took photos of the problem and emailed them to friend, who is a civil engineer, in Michigan. His friend concurred with him, Volpe said.
The city tried later to re-roll the surface, Volpe added, but “that’s like trying to re-roll the dough on a pizza after it’s cooked.”
“We only received two complaints,” Maurer told the Pelican Monday. “I don’t know how many people called (FDOT).”
When FDOT officials finished a July 7 update for the SKA on the Siesta north bridge project, Volpe asked them about the groove. Although the FDOT representatives were not familiar with the problem, Jonathan Sands, district construction engineer for District One, offered to investigate and report back to the SKA.
Last week, Sands emailed Catherine Luckner, SKA president.
“When we looked into the issue, we found that the city of Sarasota managed this asphalt paving project using federal funds through FDOT’s Local Agency Program (LAP),” he wrote. “The asphalt pavement hasn’t been corrected yet because the prime contractor, EHC, and the subcontractor who actually paved the road, Pro Way Paving, are in a dispute. Pro Way alleges there are monies due to them by EHC from a previous unrelated project and won’t repave the road until EHC pays them what they believe they are owed. The city of Sarasota is currently reviewing its options on how to resolve the deficient asphalt issue. We are confident the city will resolve this issue to everyone’s satisfaction very shortly.”
With FDOT’s cooperation, Maurer said, the city tested the asphalt. A seam is allowed in paving, she said, but “it’s a matter of where the seam is (in this case) — right in the wheel path.”
The city sent a letter in late June to EHC, based in Naples, to tell the company it would be in default on the project unless the paving problems were corrected.
“It is their responsibility to make the corrective work happen,” Maurer said.
The city had been withholding about $126,000 in its final payment to EHC, she added, “which is more than enough to cover the work.”
The company responded by email June 29, she said, and city officials had a pre-paving meeting with EHC representatives last week.
She added that EHC will not be “utilizing Pro Way to do the corrective work.”
“I felt sorry for them,” Volpe said of Pro Way Paving, “but it was a dumb mistake to make.”
Contact Rachel Brown Hackney at [email protected].
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