By NATHAN GREGORY
Motorists who frequent Louisville Street can expect to see construction to continue through the end of October, but the most difficult portions of the project have been completed, City Engineer Edward Kemp said.
A full-scale upgrade of the road and drainage system, which Columbus-based Gregory Construction began in January, has not met the contract date of Sept. 9. The renovation includes widening portions of the road that were originally two lanes to three lanes as well as the installation of a sidewalk on the west side of the road, which is almost done. Owner Aaron Gregory said considering the amount of minor setbacks workers have been presented through the process, the delay could have been longer, and the last stretch of the project is being completed more quickly.
“Many changes came when we were trying to wrap up the west side (of the road) which affected the schedule. If the west side was not complete we could not work on the east side,” Gregory said. “We’ve had an abnormally wet summer. Even when we have four or five days of dry weather, a heavy rain event sets us back two to three days in the construction project.”
Kemp said workers are progressing quickly on the east side of the road.
“They’ve really increased the amount of personnel and equipment they’ve had over there the past couple of weeks so they’re really pushing hard to try to finish it,” Kemp said. “(The road widening currently in progress by) Millsaps (Career and Technology Center) is all that’s lacked at that side of the road, and all the way down they’ll curb and gutter on that side. Then they’ll come back and overlay the entire road. Once they get all the drainage and the driveways poured over there it will start to come together a lot better.”
Gregory said the project has presented a more rigid set of boundaries as a result of Louisville Street being a major thoroughfare in Starkville but hasn’t received any complaints from residents or business owners in the area.
“It’s like open heart surgery when you think about it. From a construction standpoint, in that area, that’s about what we’ve done. We’ve taken the road to its bare bones, installed new storm drainage, built up a new road, new curbs (and) new sidewalks. It’s a major overhaul of that area,” Gregory said, “And it had to be done while it was live. You don’t get to kill the patient. You’ve got to keep him alive.”
Raymond Woods owns Raymond’s Auto Repair, which is located on the east side of the street where work is currently in progress. He said he has not been affected negatively by the construction and is looking forward to seeing its completion and what that could mean for his shop.
“We’ve actually gotten busier than we were,” Woods said. “Some has to do with (Mississippi State University students) coming back. It has definitely not hurt my business in any way, and that has a lot to do with the way they’re doing it. When they have to do something they go in there and get it done.”
Gregory said overall the project was two separate jobs.
“The west side had many more tie-ins. There were more driveways to be considered and the sidewalk. Much of the time has been spent there,” he said. “The east side is going much smoother and will be done much sooner.”
Kemp said the work left before the project is finished includes finishing widening the road and installing curbs and gutters on its east side, paving the east lane, overlaying the roadway in its entirety and striping the surface.