Briarwood Drive work still unfinishedBy ANTHONY WARREN,
In May, road crews descended on Briarwood Drive, giving motorists hope the street would be soon be repaved and commutes would be smoother.
Four months later, drivers are still waiting for the street to be finished. However, city officials say it should be completed sometime this month.
The roadway’s completion will cap a $4.7 million major street resurfacing campaign funded by the city’s one-percent infrastructure sales tax.
Briarwood is scheduled for resurfacing from I-55N to North State Street..
“Briarwood will resume once contractors are done with Ridgewood Road. We don’t have a specific date at this time,” Traffic Engineer Robert Lee said. Currently Ridgewood Road, from Old Canton to County Line roads, is being repaved.
Meanwhile, Briarwood has been milled and overlaid in some areas and unpaved in others. Much of the Briarwood’s center turn lane has not been paved. Near Chili’s, city crews repaired a major divot that had caused at least one rear-end collision.
Lee said the base coat was only added in areas that needed “additional leveling.”
“The asphalt was not required on the entire section of Briarwood,” he said.
The work has been plagued by delays and misfires since contractors were hired in August 2016.
Ward One Councilman Ashby Foote didn’t know why Briarwood had been delayed but is frustrated it has not been finished.
“It’s something I need to get with public works on. The department is in flux right now. (The new director) won’t be in until later this month.”
Foote believes the department and infrastructure improvement projects will run smoother once the permanent director is in place.
The council approved Mayor Chokwe Lumumba’s nomination of Robert Miller recently. Miller is expected to take office October 16.
“It’s exacerbating to see things done in a haphazard way. I knew there were issues on Ridgewood, (where contractors) had to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. That prolonged Ridgewood.”
The city council approved bringing on Superior Asphalt in August 2016.
Under terms of the agreement, Superior was supposed to mill and overlay seven major thoroughfares, including Ridgewood Road and Briarwood Drive.
At the time, public works told the Sun work would begin shortly after Labor Day.
However, Superior was not issued a notice to proceed until November, Engineering Manager Charles Williams said.
Contractors were then supposed to get started on January 3 and then on January 10. Work finally began on January 20, after then-Mayor Tony Yarber publicly threatened to cancel the contract.
Initially, crews were expected to start on Briarwood in March.
Weeks later, though, the start date was pushed back so the sidewalk, curb and gutter work could be completed.
Crews started on Briarwood in late May.
But the project stopped after about a week. City officials cited inclement weather as the reason.
The Northside received record rain fall in June.
Briarwood is one of seven major streets included in the Superior contract. Other roadways include Ridgewood; Northside Drive from Medgar Evers Boulevard to Sunset Street; Raymond Road from Forest Hill Road to Castle Hill Road; McRaven Road from Maddox Road to the city limits; Greenway Street from U.S. 18 to Robinson Road; and Gallatin from the viaduct to South State Street.
Briarwood averages around 9,200 vehicles a day, according to MDOT traffic count maps.