City withholds payment for First Avenue work

City representatives voted to wait to pay a $425,000 bill toward street work on First Avenue until they are guaranteed the contractor will have the street in good condition going into winter.

The decision at the Nov. 20 meeting came after the council heard from engineers overseeing the project and expressed frustration that the city is not seeing the project done as staff and elected officials think it was promised. Because the contract doesn’t allow specific penalties for delayed work, the council said its only recourse is to not pay until it is satisfied the street will be ready for winter traffic and snow removal.

“They moved crews off this to go to other jobs,” Alderman Dan Sutton said of delays. He said the contractor came to the council with a “song and dance” about an extension until next summer, but now work that should have been done hasn’t been.

H&W Contracting of Sioux Falls initially planned to have the $4.05 million project completed early this month but came to the city for an extension until July 25, 2018, including time for work that was added between West and Wind streets.

The overall project includes replacement of the main water and sewer line on First Avenue from Veterans Street to Lindsay Street, along with storm drains, new curb and gutter and reconnecting water and sewer services for businesses and homes. In addition, the road will be repaved.

Council representatives said they would like a representative from H&W to come back to the council and explain where the project is being left and why work was delayed.

In September, contractor H&W Contracting of Sioux Falls promised to have the entire project asphalted by the end of the year, said Don Weigel with Clark Engineering out of Aberdeen. “That’s not likely to happen anymore because of the time of year,” he said. Asphalt plants are no longer producing the product because of the cold, he said. “That’s not ideal and that’s not the situation we had asked for.”

Instead, the engineering company will make sure H&W provides a suitable gravel road on areas that are not finished, which will mean laying gravel and then having to remove it again in the spring to complete additional work, Weigel said. It will take at least two crews to complete the job for winter, which will need to be done one house at a time, he said.

H&W also has not delivered as promised on surfacing the road before winter, he said. “They made those kinds of promises a couple different times.” The only extension should have been for the additional work, not the initial contract, he said.

In addition, work that has been complete will need to be torn up next spring, Weigel said. Curb and gutter should have been placed first, and the road has been asphalted in places already. The contractor will have to cut the asphalt out or back and repave, he said.

“They have not delivered to you folks at all the way they should. That’s a huge disappointment,” Weigel said. “Before anything starts next spring … we need to have a ‘come to Jesus’ discussion about what’s going to happen.”

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