Roadwork still delayed on E64

Resurfacing work continues on Highway E64 south of Tama on a combined project that has area residents and county officials frustrated.

Cessford Construction was awarded the contract earlier this year.

The scope of the project was to replace a bridge on Highway E64 with a box culvert and to resurface a 6.2 mile stretch of road that, according to Tama County Engineer Lyle Brehm, “did not have much life left in it”.

The Iowa Department of Transportation estimates around 490 vehicles travel at least a portion of the E64 highway per day.

The project required putting some cracks to the old concrete pavement so tile could be installed on each side of the road. The cracking of the pavement was done before Labor Day and now seven weeks later the surface is still waiting to be fully restored.

The bridge that was replaced has remained partially blocked to thru traffic, however local access has been allowed to fields and driveways.

Residents commenting on the Tama County Engineer’s Facebook page expressed frustrations about the inconveniance of the asphalt being torn up for several weeks. One commenter reported a flat tire she believed to have been caused by the broken pavement.

“We’ve been in contact with Cessford Construction on a regular basis to find out when they’re moving in. They’ve told us they would be moving in within a couple, three weeks. Obviously that hasn’t materialized.”

The contract between the county and Cessford Construction provides for a certain amount of working days for the project to be completed.

Working days in this context refer to days Monday to Friday where weather does not prevent outside work to occur.

According to Brehm the contractors are nearing the limit of working days provided in the contract with new asphalt yet to be laid.

Should the working days be exceeded, the contract provides liquidated damages in the amount of $2000 per working day to be paid to the county for each working day that goes by past the agreed upon limit.

The accepted bid for the combined bridge and resurfacing project on Highway E64 totaled $3,928,612.66. According to Brehm, the next lowest bid the county received for the work was roughly $500,000 higher than what was submitted by Cessford Construction.

Brehm says it’s not unheard of to place asphalt this late in the year but considering the county has already experienced its first measurable snowfall, time is of the essence.

“It is very possible what we will do is require the contractor to place some amount of asphalt down to make the road passable and complete the project in the spring,” Brehm said. “We intend to enforce the contract provisions which include the working days threshold and liquidated damages procedure.