Last month, Thomas Construction finished the major portion of the Gibson Mill widening project with the road officially open for traffic Dec. 23. However, the project is not technically complete and crews have been on site performing some final work on the bridge, sidewalk construction and cleanup work.
“We are finishing up some minor work, such as the installation of the aluminum rail and the removal of the form work for the bridge deck overhangs,” said Greg Ellege, senior project manager at Thomas Construction. “This work should have a very minimal impact to the Greenbelt and should be completed by the end of next week.”
Safety barrels and cones have been placed along the bridge and some heavy equipment was on site Friday afternoon performing some excavation work for the upcoming concrete work for the sidewalks. Sidewalks need to be finished on both sides of Gibson Mill, from the new bridge up toward the Watauga Street roundabout.
Ellege said some of the work along Gibson Mill has been under flag, meaning crews stop one lane of traffic to flag traffic through the area where the work is taking place. The bridge is wide enough that crews just have to place barrels, Ellege said, noting that most of the work is taking place underneath the bridge.
And weather permitting, Ellege said the work should wrap up by the end of next week.
Assistant Public Works Director Michael Thompson said the Greenbelt is open unless affected by the work taking place underneath the bridge.
Work on this latest phase was scheduled to end Nov. 1, but several issues (utility work and changing the sequence of work to better accommodate Holston Floral) pushed the deadline back until Dec. 22.
As per the contract, Kingsport will hold back from the final payment $1,000 for each day work continues past the deadline. However, that amount has yet to be determined, Thompson said. Thomas Construction has requested at least six change orders in recent weeks, asking for 23 additional days to complete the final work on the project.
In an e-mail to the city, Thomas Construction says the additional days are necessary to install gaskets for the waterline across the bridge, a tie-in to the church parking lot, additional concrete work along Cassel Drive and to cover the delays due to conflicts with the gas company.
Thompson said the city has approved a change order request for three days to cover Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. The other requests have not been approved and Thompson said the $1,000 a day in liquidated damages would not be determined until the very end of the project.
If all of the change orders were to be approved, the new completion date would be Jan. 15.
For nearly five years now, some type of road construction has been taking place along Gibson Mill Road in connection with an overall effort to improve the roads in and around the Holston Valley Medical Center. The improvements have included the construction of two new roundabouts, the removal of the two switchbacks along Gibson Mill, a wider section of road from Stone Drive and a new entrance to the hospital.
The latest round of work began in February 2012 and resulted in Gibson Mill being three-laned from Mill Pond to Robertson Street, then tapering down to two lanes at Dorothy Street and continuing on to Watauga. Thomas Construction built a new bridge over Reedy Creek, raised the road by 12 feet at this location and stretched the Greenbelt underneath the new bridge.
The project also closed Broad Street Hill from the bottom and removed the traffic signal at Robertson.
The estimated cost of the project is more than $3.2 million.