November 4, 2010 in City

Paving crews racing to beat the freeze

Stretch of Second Avenue to close Friday
By The Spokesman-Review
Dan Pelle photo

Inland Asphalt crews grade crushed rock along Second Avenue at Post Street on Wednesday.
(Full-size photo)

Dozens of workers were hurrying on Wednesday to lay rock, fix utilities and prepare West Second Avenue for its finishing layers of asphalt pavement in coming days.

A $3.3 million reconstruction of Second between Howard Street and Sunset Boulevard is about two weeks behind schedule, but the contractor is hoping there’s still enough time to finish paving before cold weather settles in this month.

Paving work is planned for Friday, forcing a daylong closure of Monroe and Lincoln streets at Second from 5:30 a.m. to about 4 p.m., the project coordinator said.

The Friday paving involves the south side of Second between Howard and Jefferson streets.

Paving is expected to continue next Tuesday from Jefferson to Sunset Boulevard, forcing daylong closures of Maple and Walnut streets at Second.

Once the base layers of asphalt are completed, workers would need to return one more time for a final two-inch layer.

Workers are hoping to complete the job this month.

“We are keeping our fingers crossed,” said Steve Maier, project coordinator for Spokane’s Inland Asphalt Co., the prime contractor.

City officials said workers need an air temperature of 40 to 45 degrees to keep the asphalt warm enough so that rollers can compact it into a durable driving surface.

The National Weather Service is calling for highs of 44 on Monday and Tuesday as cooler air moves into the region.

Hot-mix asphalt is typically available until about mid-November or Thanksgiving, workers said.

If the project can’t be finished this fall, crews will prepare the driving surface for the winter and return next spring to put down the final top layer of asphalt.

While crews prepared gravel base for paving on Second, traffic moved slowly down the north half of Second where workers have put down the first four inches of asphalt. The final two inches are still needed there.

At arterial cross streets, drivers were still moving through four-way stop signs. Traffic signals are being reinstalled this week.

Pavers laid asphalt on Wednesday on nearby Madison, Jefferson and Adams streets between Third and Fourth avenues, which was part of the contract.

Work that began on Aug. 2 included installation of a 12-inch water main, some new sidewalk sections and new storm drain pipes. That work is finished.

Crews ran into all kinds of problems when they dug into the street, causing the two-week delay.

“Some of the intersections, you’d be amazed at how much stuff is in there,” he said, some of it a century old.

The high number of gas and electrical lines in the street created conditions that were not safe for nighttime work, Maier said.

Mike Taylor, director of engineering services, said workers encountered old coal chutes and fuel tanks adjacent to the street.

In some instances, workers had to custom-bend electrical conduit around buried obstructions, and the drainage system required custom adjustments as well.

Taylor said cost overruns should stay below the original engineering estimate for the project of $4.4 million. Those added costs had not been tabulated yet, but will have to go to the City Council for approval.

Cost overruns known as change orders have averaged 2.4 percent on other city street projects financed under a 2004 voter bond issue. Second Avenue street work is part of the bond.

Reopening of Second can’t come too soon for struggling businesses.

At Select Motel, 1420 W. Second Ave., manager Mary Harrington said that she has been renting only two or three rooms a night recently. Part of the problem is a slow economy, but the construction work has discouraged business as well.

At Rohrer’s Select Cars, 1126 W. Second Ave., staff members there said business had dropped by 90 percent.

“Tell them to hurry up and get it done,” said Gabe Muglia, the shop detailer.

There are eight comments on this story. Click here to view comments >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email