Two years later Ridgewood project still incomplete; city quiet about possible late fees

By ANTHONY WARREN,

Jackson city officials still won’t say whether Superior Asphalt will be required to pay damages for failing to complete the Ridgewood Road project on time.

Months after the project was expected to wrap up, crews with the Byram-based contractor were back on Ridgewood last week, finishing up work on the major road repaving project.

The work comes months after the project was supposed to be completed, and weeks after a Jackson Academy student was killed there after her car hit an unsecured manhole.

The firm could face hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines for not completing the project on time.

However, city officials were unwilling to discuss whether the damages would be enforced at press time.

“We are working with Superior to close out the project ... I am not willing to provide details on the discussion until all matters have been finalized,” Public Works Director Robert Miller said.

He didn’t say when the project would officially be closed out.

Jackson brought on Superior in 2016 to pave seven major city thoroughfares. Under terms of the contract, the firm had 240 calendar days to complete the work. For each day past the 240, Superior would be charged $500 a day in damages.

The city signed off on the contract on September 19 of that year. Including weekends, work should have wrapped up May 17, 2017. Without weekends, paving should have been completed by August 22 of the same year.

However, there’s another wrinkle. Jackson did not issue a notice to proceed until November.

City officials would not say what date that notice was issued.

The city also wouldn’t say whether the 240-day clock began at the signing of the contract or at the issuing of the notice to proceed.

Notices to proceed are issued by local governments to allow contractors to begin work on contracts.

In Jackson’s case, they’re typically not issued until contracts are signed off on by the mayor and reviewed by the legal department.

As of June 29, work on Ridgewood was still ongoing.

 

Regardless of the start date, the firm could owe the city hundreds of thousands of dollars. Based on the May 17 finish date, Superior would owe Jackson $204,500. Based on the August 22 start date, total damages through June 30 would come to $155,500.

Based on a November start date, weekends excluded, fines could range anywhere from $106,500 to $121,000. Weekends included, fines could be between $167,500 to $182,000. 

The final payment to Superior had not been awarded at press time.

The $4.7 million contract has been mired in controversy. The city awarded the contract in the fall of 2016, but work didn’t get under way until the following January.

After a series of missed start dates, then Mayor Tony Yarber threatened to cancel the contract. Work began on January 20, 2017.

Ridgewood was supposed to be one of the first roads milled and overlaid but the project was pushed back because of problems with the subcontractors.

The contract was funded with monies from Jackson’s one-percent infrastructure sales tax.

IMS Engineers, the former one-percent program manager, told the Sun previously that Superior rescheduled Ridgewood because subcontractors were working on sidewalks on another street.

Bulldog Construction, a subcontractor on the project, was responsible for sidewalk repair.

The contract called for milling and overlaying all streets, as well as bringing sidewalks and other pedestrian features into Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements.

 

In May, Jackson Academy senior Frances Anne Fortner was killed when she hit an unsecured manhole cover on Ridgewood. The incident occurred near Venetian Way, within the footprint of the project.

Among punch list items, Superior was required to raise manhole covers to the level of the new pavement.

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The Jackson Academy Association (JAA) will host A Blue and White Night at the Country Club of Jackson on Saturday, August 11.