Par for the Course: Oakley’s Downtown Project Delayed Again

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Oakley Downtown Delay

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.

Oakley Chamber

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.

Nancy Marquez
Assistant to the City Manager (habla español)
Email: [email protected]
Office: (925)625-7007
Cell: (925)550-9517

Reggie Decker
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.

Burk Byline

By Michael Burkholder


15 COMMENTS

  1. Hope Mayor Romick and Vice Mayor Pope read this prior to giving Montgomery his review. I agree with you, city people need to be held accountable along with the contractor. I bet if you start docking pay of city employees they will get this done in less than a week.

    • our downtown is a joke..read the traffic sign just before luckys store it directs cars to turn there and trucks to continue downtown. all the construction and mess I do not go that direction.

  2. Having a husband that for decades has worked in commercial construction, there is absolutely no reason for this project to be taking so long except to keep sucking the city dry. While I support the concept of improving Oakley, I have been consistently disappointed with the inept manner in which several of our council members and city employees have behaved. There is no sense of urgency from any of them. In most contracts I have seen there is a key phrase: Time is of the essence. It is there for a reason. The citizens of Oakley are losing precious time travelling this nightmare of ‘civic improvement’ and have humored the powers that be for much too long. Start the penalties against the developer and let’s get the project manager and city manager front and center to justify/defend the lackadaisical attitude they have been displaying and not allow them to patronize this community any longer.

  3. Not a doubt in my mind Oakley will be in court with Bay Cities just like the rest of us. I don’t think there has ever been a job there hasn’t been a law suit over. Antioch needs to stop doing business with Bay Cities, NOW.

  4. Oakley’s mayor should stop offering projections on completion dates and begin looking over city staffs shoulders to keep them moving forward. Poor planning starts at the top. Blame the council and city manager

  5. The Mayor is a mouthpiece for Oakley, he actually has very little power or control over a project. With that being said, he should probably begin to speak up instead of continue to make excuses for delays. He needs to lead, not sit back and wait for something to happen.

    If people stop complaining on a website and instead start showing up to council meetings, the council and city staff may begin to show some urgancy to get this project completed.

  6. Mr. Burkholder,

    I think you also left out the part where Oakley PD will have a tough time getting in and out of that police station. They either have to go through city halls parking lot or be stuck waiting to make a right turn into the parking lot. Poor design all around that effects ALL public safety.

    • Are you talking about when they pave or the permanent set up? Jimmy D told me that there’ll be a right turn lane into his lot when it’s done and if it does become an issue the police have these things called sirens and lights to get out of that lot whenever they want to

  7. They will eventually have to tear it up because it is such a safety issue. One lane on a Main Street? OMG Another reason “staff” should be questioned at length by council in the planning stages.

    • Yeah. What were they thinking? One lane Main Streets don’t work. Look at Livermore, Pleasanton, Los Gatos, err, wait, those do work, really well. Hmmm…

      • Those other examples work because there are parallel streets within a block that emergency can use as alternates. Here, not so much.

  8. I agree that instead of complaining on this blog there should be as many people that can, attend the council meetings to voice our opinion. Or since the phone numbers to Montgomery and Marquez are posted here we should get everyone to call them. They should be held accountable for the delay in this project. They approved a raise for themselves on what basis? They’re not saving the City of Oakley any money.

  9. Ever been to a accident or see police block a road? It doesn’t matter what police do, vehicles seem to think they know best and try and bypass cops. Ever see emergency vehicles with lights on… cars are slow to get out of the way and in most cases freak out and actually block traffic. It’s a poor design for a police department and any public safety vehicle to have easy access.

  10. Again a total farce…..hire a real contractor and get ur done…this is like a cal-trans project

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