In case you missed it, the City of Oakley is warning drivers to avoid Main Street on Friday as they are set to pave the road as they will be fixing a “pipe” issue. Flaggers will be on hand to control traffic, but expect long delays if you choose to go through downtown Oakley.
In an email from Reggie Decker, Oakley Engineering Project Manager, a new pipe is required to connect to the CentroMart building.
“The developed building will require a new dedicated fire service line. To alleviate the developer necessitating tearing up the newly completed improvements, we had Bay Cities install the line last week,” said Decker.
According to another source from the city, this was an oversight and should have been caught earlier in the project.
The news of the paving delay comes a day after traffic was blocked by construction crews on Tuesday where we were alerted to the traffic mess as vehicles were being diverted into the Oakley City Hall Parking lot–we even snapped a picture of the flagger on his cell phone while directing traffic.
“In a select few circumstances, Bay Cities has directed eastbound traffic through the parking lot to prevent long backups or delays while maneuvering equipment or placing materials adjacent to the Civic Center Park. This has been only for brief intervals and is not a long-term traffic control measure,” said Decker.
Okay so we get that this may be brief intervals, but the bigger question is why is construction still continuing in July? After all, the project was promised to be completed by June 30 according to a recent city council meeting, Mayor Romicks blog, city outreach emails, and a meeting with the Oakley Chamber of Commerce.
There comes a point where enough is enough with the talk and just finish the project.
If you recall, Mayor Kevin Romick stated on his blog on June 12, 2013 that construction would be done by the end of June.
While currently an inconvenience to travel through, residents are thanked for their patience and reminded to look forward to the value added by the completed project when it yields a safe vehicle and pedestrian-friendly route through town, a destination for many events, and increased support of our local Downtown businesses.
Bay Cities, the contractor on site, continues to commit that the full Main Street project will be done by the end of June.
Well, it’s now July Mr. Mayor and we are still waiting for a smooth road and construction vehicles to be a thing of the past. Going a step further, the Mayor also told the Chamber of Commerce during the Breakfast with the Mayor that fines would begin after June 30. That is not happening as of July 3.
Confirmed by Reggie Decker, the company is not being fined at this time and no reason was provided for the lack of a fine.
Going back further, the City sent out this email last August which we posted on August 17 of 2012. They estimated construction would be just another 3-4 months at that point in time–we are now 10-months later. Here is a look a their letter:
Dear Business Owner:
Main Street construction has commenced. As expected the changes in traffic handling have resulted in some confusion, as it is a change from the driver’s normal routine.
We’d like to report that yesterday’s congestion can mostly be attributed to the flashing red signal light that malfunction coincidentally on the day construction began and as we were setting up traffic control. The malfunction was not part of the construction and would have caused problems even if construction wasn’t going on. However we’re happy to report that work to repair the traffic signal is taking place now and should be fully resolved before the end of the day today.
While our plans on paper tried to anticipate problems, now that the project is underway we are working hard to make the necessary adjustments that will improve traffic flow and minimize impact to our local businesses.
Some of those measures include the following:
• Signage announcing the transition going Eastbound will be improved
• Signage better demarcating entryways to Oakley Plaza have been ordered
• All lanes will continue to remain open the entire time and will stay open throughout the project (barring some overnight single lane closures)
Be assured that the concerns we’ve received were communicated to our contractor this afternoon and troubleshooting has begun. If there are improvements to make, we will make them. We have experienced people on the Project – in the field and office – that will closely monitor the traffic handling.
We appreciate your patience as we move forward on this project and feel free to continue to provide comments which will always be welcomed.
The plan of the Project is to move quickly and complete the improvements within 3-4 months, to minimize the impact to businesses, rather than have disruption over a longer period of time.
Questions, comments, concerns can be directed to the City Manager’s Office and/or to the Project Manager.
Assistant to the City Manager (habla español)
Email: [email protected]
Engineering Project Manager
In a project that started last August and estimated to last 3-4 months, how now ballooned to 10-months and counting.
When questions arise about the project, generally speaking, people are talked down to about how “complex” the project is or how “this is the largest construction project the city has taken on”.
I would like to remind the City of Oakley that answer is no long acceptable. Offer some full disclosure and share why exactly delays are occurring. If one gets a “the project is complex” answer, simply respond “so what” and request they further explain themselves on what that means. After all, there are much more complex projects going on in many cities across the country that are under budget and on-time.
Looking at this from a budget stand point, the cost of oversight has nearly quadrupled for staff time. Remember, this project was going to take 3-4 months to complete, we have surpassed the year mark which means those hours estimated for oversight, have increased. Instead of focusing on other Oakley issues or improvements, they have been stuck on Main Street.
For example, the Ray Street Project was awarded funds last October to fix a flooding issue–that project has still not began. You also still have the E. Cypress Road problem that isn’t even on the radar at this time. Another scary thought is finding a way to get a fire engine or ambulance through Main Street without delay as the fire lane was removed for cost.
I dunno about you, but I’d rather spend $250k-$500k on a fire lane for public safety vehicles than a fountain. A fountain will not save any lives.
Changing directions, here is a brief synopsis of the project from start date to today. Remember, you have to go all the way back to March 3, 2012 when Carpaccio’s held its groundbreaking.
Timeline of Major Incidents
- May 3, 2012: Carpaccio groundbreaking which kicked off the start of Downtown Revitalization. Carpaccios was scheduled to open before Thanksgiving.
- May 23, 2012: Cross Development/DG Market Bid approved to take over CentroMart Building while Ace Hardwares Bid to take over Oakley Plaza was also approved
- July 2012: Construction begins on Main Street
- August 2012: Shift in traffic at Vintage Parkway and Norcross Lane to allow for road improvements—this also created a traffic light malfunction causing huge delays for a few weeks.
- September 30, 2012: Owners of Black Bear Diner begins asking for road signs to downtown business.
- December 6, 2012: Oakley withholds announcing dinner plans from public for Mayors Conference
- December 15, 2012: Mayor Romick informs Oakley Carpaccios was open for business. That same day, the Contra Costa Times reported Carpaccio’s fined for serving food to the Mayors Conference with proper permits.
- January 11, 2013: Congressman Jerry McNerney tours Downtown Oakley’s Construction project.
- January 2013: La Costa opens at its new facility.
- February: Hook, Line and Sinker sues the City of Oakley for loss of business, loss of income, and a decrease in the value of their business. The plaza was supposed to be completed by November 2012.
- March 11, 2013: Oakley residents find out DG Market pulled its bid shortly after being accepted which is where the Library debate began. The Council then re-approved original bid which will result with a showdown with the State at some point in the near future.
- April 2013: Oakley approved $677,000 in scope of work changes, contract change orders, etc. pushing the project over $6 million. A total of 15-change orders were approved. At this point, it was estimated that the project would take an additional 40-days to complete.
- May 2013: Vegetation is planted in the plaza between Carpaccios and La Costa as well as the parking lot behind it.
- June 7, 2013: City of Oakley sends out a misleading Press Release via its “Oakley Outreach” email regarding the Downtown Revitalization Update which we explained in detail they were not telling the entire story. Note, they told the public Bay Cities would be done by June 30.
- July 3, 2013: Informed the project is another 8-days away from completion and to avoid Main Street on July 5.
As the project will one day come to an end, I truly hope the comments made by Councilwoman Carol Rios ring true about how 10-years from now we will have forgotten all the set backs and enjoy the downtown.
I hope she is right because at the rate this project is going, 10-years from now we will still be working on improving downtown Oakley.
While I understand delays and things come up, but to overshoot it by nearly a year means its a pretty big miss along with a lack of oversight or attention to details. To date, those responsible for the delays have not been held responsible for their errors and its a shame. Most people by now would have been handed a pink slip–instead, they are applauded for working hard by our council.
Oakley deserves better than what this project has provided to us as the oversights and cost continues to increase.
By Michael Burkholder