Murfreesboro sidewalk project hits snag
By John Balch
The sidewalk enhancement project around Murfreesboro’s town square could hit a snag just as spring-breakers and tourists are beginning to arrive.
Mayor Travis Branch reported Monday night that state highway department officials have detected a problem with the project’s required slope and have tried to stop work. Branch said the handicapped ramps being installed hit underneath the asphalt of the state highway which loops around the town square. Over the years, the mayor said, the state Highway and Transportation Department have overlaid old asphalt instead of putting in new asphalt and that over time it has resulted in a change of elevation in front of the businesses.
“And that has jumped up and hit us in the mouth,” Branch said.
He was informed Monday by state officials that the city will have to hire a contractor to drill out the old asphalt and fix the slope before the project can continue. The state officials requested the work on the project be stopped immediately, but the mayor refused to allow a work stoppage.
“My fighting argument with the state is why are they going to make the city fix a state highway,” Branch said during Monday night’s city council meeting. The state maintains the city is at fault, he added.
The extra work could cost the city upwards to $40,000 in addition to the $30,590 already committed to the project. “So, in the meantime, the businesses are going to suffer,” said council member Chris Sharp, whose family owns a business on the town square.
Sharp also questioned why the problem was not detected by the state department and engineers during the design-phase of the project. Mayor Branch said state officials approved and signed all the contracts and plans involved in the project.
Council member Dana Stone, who is a lawyer, said the state should be bound to everything set forth in the contract. Mayor Branch said he has been in contact with two local state senators about the issue and he and the council members urged the community and business members to do the same.
“The biggest deal is – it’s a problem, it’s their problem, they know it’s their problem and they’re looking for a way out of it,” Branch said. “If they can throw it on us and make us pay for it, that’s exactly what’s going to happen.”
The $152,957 sidewalk enhancement project began last month around and along the town square. The city’s share of the project is 20 percent or approximately $30,590 with the remainder of the funds being provided by a grant from the state highway department. Construmarr, Inc., of Bentonville was the low bid for the project, which has been in the works for at least the last 10 years.
The project is currently scheduled to be completed by June 1.