11/10/08 — Street project ahead of schedule

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Street project ahead of schedule

By Steve Herring
Published in News on November 10, 2008 1:57 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Work is ahead of schedule on one long-delayed project here while another continues to experience difficulties getting out of the starting gate.

The two projects have been on the town's to-do list for years -- renovations to the old train depot that now houses the town's civic center and revitalization of the west side of the 200 block of North Center Street.

Both projects have experienced their share of false starts. The street project finally got under way in September and is making up for lost time by being ahead of schedule.

The depot project continues to struggle -- bids came in over budget, and the project must now be rebid. The bids are expected by the middle of the month.

"The initial bids exceeded the amount of grant funding we had to do the project," Town Manager Charles Brown said.

The town has $100,000 in state grants to do the work. The lowest bid came in at $152,000.

The town has requested the state's permission to break out certain portions of the project in an attempt to obtain lower bids.

"We sent out bid packets for the stabilization of the exterior of the building and the roofing," Brown said. "We sent out separate bid packages for the heating and air conditioning work.

"We think we can do that for the amount of funding that we have now and we will continue to seek phase two funding so that we can restore the interior. Our thinking is that if we can at least get the exterior of the building stabilized so it won't suffer any additional damages and get the heating and air conditioning to work, then it is still a useable facility. It may not look the way we may want it to look inside, but it will still be a usable facility."

The grant's original purpose was for the relocation of the depot to its original site next to the railroad tracks near the fire station. That was not possible because adequate land was unavailable.

The town then asked if the money could be used to renovate the depot where it sits today just off West Main Street.

Hine Sitework of Goldsboro is doing the work on the North Center Street project.

Brown said the company has done "a great job," particularly in ensuring that access to the businesses in the work zone remains open and by keeping the job site clean.

Brown said he was unsure how far the project is ahead of schedule, but that it appears to be "substantial."

By Thanksgiving, the project should be well on its way to being completed, he said. The work is to the point that it centers around landscaping and planters, Brown said.

The pedestal and wiring for the new street lights are in the ground, and Progress Energy has placed its utilities underground.

All of the businesses along the street have new water connections and most of the new sidewalks have been poured.

The project also calls for the street to be resurfaced.

Like the depot, the street project has experienced several delays since the town received a $200,000 grant for the work.

The town first had difficulties obtaining an easement from CSX Corp. railroad. It was further delayed when the state Department of Cultural Resources got involved since the street is in the town's historic district.

The work has required the street to be closed on several occasions late in the afternoon, mainly for safety reasons, Brown said. It also will have to be closed when the street is resurfaced.