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2012-08-30

Delayed paving to begin with school start

Contributed

Because paving mixes that met standards set by the Texas Department of Transportation have been unavailable, the start of roadwork on Highway 16 South near Bandera High School has been delayed. The work is now set to begin the morning of Monday, August 27 - along with classes for the new school year.

Paving crews will begin moving equipment at 8:30 am, and alternating lanes of the highway will be shutdown daily until the work is finished.

TxDOT officials have limited lane closures to between 8:30 am and 3 pm to keep equipment out of the way during peak school traffic hours.

"We have working with our contractor for weeks trying to make sure we did not end up at this point," said Mike Coward, lead engineer for TxDOT's Kerrville area. "I am very disappointed that we have failed to complete our work."

Coward estimated the work should be completed in about two weeks.

Salinas Construction, of Pleasanton, began work on the $1.7 million project to widen portions of Highway 16 between Pipe Creek and Bandera in December 2011 expected the work would be finished before the start of school. However, crews had to stop work completely in early August when an approved batch of hot mix was unavailable for the project.

Constraints on available manpower also contributed to the delay.

Before using materials to pave a roadway, TxDOT requires hot mix asphalt to meet certain criteria regarding its chemical make-up and the amount of pressure it can handle.

A batch of hot mix can take several weeks to develop and test before being approved. Contractors working on TxDOT roadways often consider batch approval schedules when determining their work schedules.

However, two separate suppliers used by Salinas did not have approved batches available.

Weeks that would initially have been spent paving the roadway in time for the school year were instead spent waiting for approved hot mix designs.

Now that mix designs have been approved, Salinas is mobilizing paving crews to finish the project.

Though the work will not be complete before the initially projected finish date, the project is not behind schedule in terms of contract status.

At least a month's worth of contracted workdays remain before the project would be considered behind schedule. Typically a contractor-submitted project schedule is used to determine project durations, not contracted workdays.

In a related matter, last week, subcontractors erected a new traffic signal at the intersection of Highway 16 and Old San Antonio Highway. The signal will improve safety at the intersection.