Council approves final payment to contractor despite signs of disrepair
Jackson city leaders have approved making the final payment to contractors on the Eastover Drive Water Main Replacement Project.
But a quick drive along the Northside roadway raises questions as to whether the $795,000 project is actually finished.
The project included installing a new water main along the south side of the street between Ridgewood Road and the I-55 North frontage road.
While the contract called for restoring the property torn up to make way for the new line, last week it appeared that much of the dirt along the roadway had not been restored to its previous condition.
In front of the Research and Development Center, hay has been used to cover up what was a large muddy area covered with ruts and tire tracks.
Further down, at the R and D Center’s entrance, a portion of the road appears to have been torn up and never repaired.
The city council approved the final payment on February 21, at the recommendation of the department of public works.
The council signed off on the motion unanimously, with Ward Seven Councilwoman Margaret Barrett-Simon making the motion to approve it.
With the change order, the project’s cost was reduced from $826,000 to $795,000.
Barrett-Simon couldn’t be reached for comment, despite repeated phone calls.
Ward One Councilman Ashby Foote was not at the meeting.
Also voting in favor of the measure were council members Mel Priester, De’Keither Stamps and Charles Tillman.
Jackson Director of Communications Shelia Byrd also had not responded to the Sun’s questions at press time.
Mayor Tony Yarber has 45 days to sign off on the payment. Yarber also couldn’t be reached for comment this week.
The payment was approved, despite the project coming under fire numerous times.
Last year, experts told the Sun contractors were using the wrong soil to fill the pipe’s trench. Yazoo Clay, which has a high shrink-swell factor, was being used.
Many local, state and federal regulations, including Jackson’s, prohibit the use of clays when backfilling water mains in lieu of using select materials. Select materials would include silt, which does not retain water like clays.
Soils along Eastover, though, have a high “shrink-swell” factor, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, a federal agency.
Additionally, contractors were not compacting the soil around the pipe.
Experts were worried that not compacting the soil would lead to a soft shoulder and cause the road to slough off.
A sinkhole had formed along the property in January. Concerns about a soft shoulder also appeared to be warranted, with tire ruts located along several portions of the roadway.
The project is being funded by Jackson’s one-percent infrastructure sales tax.