Contractor: Railroad Avenue construction timeline clarified, not extended
It wasn’t necessarily an extension when Rifle City Council voted during an Aug. 9 special meeting to keep Railroad Avenue open into October, said KSK Construction owner Kirk Knowles.
Instead, when the $3.8 million bid was originally awarded to KSK on March 26, the company was allowed 200 days to complete the project. This means — from start to finish — KSK has until Oct. 11 to place the final touches on the project.
“We didn’t really get an extension as much as we got a clarification,” he said.
Concerns over traffic and lost revenues have flourished throughout the entire course of the project. Once it began, Rifle’s main thoroughfare of Railroad Avenue was closed down. This caused traffic to divert onto various side streets in Rifle.
Interim city manager Tommy Klein said keeping Railroad Avenue open pushed the end date back to the October date. Originally, Knowles said Railroad Avenue was supposed to be filled in with concrete by mid September.
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“So, in other words, had Railroad (Avenue) and East Third Street been closed at the same time, they would have been able to pour concrete in both locations on the same day,” Klein said. “ … They were unable to do that, because we had Railroad Avenue open. But we’ve felt that having Railroad Avenue open would be better for traffic in the community and it would be better for the downtown businesses.”
Meanwhile, downtown businesses took a financial hit. Parts of Third Street — which cuts through the downtown area — were intermittently ripped up in order to completely revamp infrastructure. The effect on parking and accessibility alone caused less foot traffic and sales for downtown storefronts that typically rely on such amenities.
“First it was COVID-19 — we had to close for a few months — then after that, the construction,” said Jalisco part owner Ramon Vidrio. “It’s been a rough time, actually.”
It was also during Aug. 9’s special meeting that the city voted to allocate $70,000 to help downtown businesses who lost revenue due to construction. It marks the second major allocation of its kind as the city provided another $75,000 to affected businesses on June 2.
For construction itself, contractors encountered at least three to five weeks of delays.
“Between the failure of the old system once we had exposed it, there was a design delay, which delayed for two weeks, while we figured out the correct elevations,” Knowles said.
“We think we can still make the 200-day original agreement,” Knowles added.
“Once we have Third Street finished, then we open it up and then close down Railroad Avenue from Third to Fifth streets,” Knowles said. “And while we’re working on that, we’re working on getting the planters filled, the vegetation put in, finishing the irrigation, get up the street signs, the street lights and opening up.”
Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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