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Sidewalk project invokes mixed reactions

By ZOË HAGGARD - zhaggard@t-g.com
Posted 12/4/21

It’s safe to say there’s been mixed reactions to the sidewalks improvement project on Shelbyville’s square.  

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Sidewalk project invokes mixed reactions

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It’s safe to say there’s been mixed reactions to the sidewalks improvement project on Shelbyville’s square.  

During Tuesday night’s Shelbyville City Council study session, there were mixed reactions from members about the discussion of a bid for improving the square’s inner circle median and light poles located around the Bedford County Courthouse.  

(The County owns the inner circle property, but the light poles are the City’s responsibility as the City pays for all lights on the square, according to City Manager Joshua Ray).  

“During this process, there have been things that have not been included within the contract that we have paid for out of funds already committed for streets and sidewalks inside the FY22 budget...that’s approximately $124,000,” Ray explained during the study session. Those include adding curb, gutter, and sidewalk segments.  

The total request for upgrading the poles, median, and underground electric is $355,000, which is more than what was budgeted and would come from the fund balance reserve.  

“What about some of the mistakes going on on the square with Curl? Surely, we’re not going to pay them until they correct them,” said councilmember Rick Overcast. “I think they need to start straightening up their mess before we give them any leeway.”  

“The final cost will hold them to accountable measures to make sure that it’s a completed project,” said Ray. Typically, the final payout is not granted until all items on the checklist are complete. Ray said they would revisit needed repairs after the completion of phases 3 and 4.  

Council will decide on the sidewalk project upgrade at the next council meeting on Thursday.  

Tuesday meetings  

Members from the project, representing Neel-Shaeffer and Curl Construction, hold an update meeting every Tuesday to discuss any issues that arise.  

“Neel-Shaeffer has been doing a very good job—that’s our engineer on the project, that was selected—they’ve been doing a good job of relaying these comments back to the Curl team. And I feel good about the communication...” said Ray.  

The total contract amount for phase 4 is $1.35 million, according to Chip Greene, Construction Services Manager for Neel-Schaffer. It’s a grant project, Greene said, so it’s a collaboration between the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) and the City of Shelbyville.  

“This project is an 80/20 grant which means that the State pays for 80 percent of the project and the City is responsible for 20 percent of the project,” Ray said in an email to the T-G. Therefore, the State will pay approximately $1.08 million, while the City will pay approximately $270,000.  

Stacy Roach, project manager for Curl Construction, said, “I think that’s one thing for us that’s important for the public to know. It’s not Curl Construction’s timeline. We’re on TDOT’s timeline...If we don’t comply with TDOT’s timeline, that’s money that we lose.”  

“There are a lot of unforeseen problems...It’s just a mystery when you break up the ground. But that’s any job site,” said Mark Clanton from Curl Construction. “It’s a mess until it gets done...but when it gets done, everybody’s happy. It looks good. But it takes a process.”  

“We are a hometown company, and we’ve worked hard to build a good reputation and serve our hometown people,” said Roach.  

Unforeseen fixes  

Wayne Hitchcock of Hitchcock Insurance said he is one of the few people on the Square who is actually excited about the project.  

“I did not like the (old) sidewalk. It was dangerous in several different places where people would trip...It was also very slick when it rained,” Hitchcock said during the citizen comments at the study session.  

There was also a faulty water pipe underneath his insurance building that was replaced when the sidewalk construction was going through and tore up the sidewalk.  

“So, I think I’m the only person on the square excited to flush the bowl and wash their hands at the same time,” Hitchcock joked.  

And since they refaced their building, Hitchcock said he was glad the trees had been cut, allowing for more visibility of the businesses.  

He also complimented the workers and said they were positive and willing to work with them.  

“Thank you for that,” he said.  

The project is scheduled to finish in mid-April 2022, or even in March if they stay ahead of schedule as they are now, Clanton said. 

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