Officials: Route 272 bridge construction to resume in Oct.
— While continuing to officially deny that any such re-bid process exists, the State Highway Administration has nonetheless been talking to town officials about a re-bidding process for the Route 272 bridge that would see construction resume in October.
Construction on the Route 272 bridge over Amtrak lines has been stalled since February due to an ongoing dispute between the contractor and the state. How-
ever, during Wednesday’s town meeting, North East Mayor Robert McKnight said he was told by SHA officials two weeks ago that the project will be re-bid this summer and completed by summer 2018.
McKnight added that SHA officials asked him again about completely closing the bridge, which acts as the main entrance into town, in order to complete the project faster. But McKnight said he doesn’t want the bridge closed completely even if that means the project will finish in summer 2018 instead of summer 2017.
“It’s my understanding that they intend to apply all the resources to this and move as quickly as possible,” McKnight said. “They understand they’re in a tough spot here. They have some egg on their face.”
But SHA continues to insist that negotiations between the contractor and the state are ongoing, and has not officially confirmed the project will be re-bid.
On Tuesday, SHA media relations manager David
Buck told the Whig there was no update on the bridge project and that the contractor and the state were still in negotiations. Despite McKnight’s statements on Wednesday night, Buck stood
by this stance when contacted on Thursday morning.
“Regardless of what you may be hearing, it’s still in negotiations,” Buck said, referring to it as a “legal matter.”
When asked about the timeline McKnight was given for the project, Buck said any such timeline is “pure speculation.”
Since construction on the Route 272 bridge started in January 2015, the project has been characterized by stop-and-start progress as well as a lack of communication between the SHA and local officials.
During the work stoppage, town officials said they were repeatedly stymied in their attempts to get updates on the project, with SHA officials saying they couldn’t dis- cuss the dispute because it was a “legal matter.”
Worries over the project increased in April when the contractor, Mumford and Miller Concrete Inc., of Middletown, Del., pulled its equipment from the site.
Mumford and Miller then contacted the town last month and said the dispute had been re- solved and the project was going to be re-bid. The company also further informed the town that it would be vacating the space it had been leasing in the town’s maintenance facilities by the end of June.
For now, both lanes on the bridge remain open, though traffic cones and concrete barriers still line both sides of the bridge.
Construction on the Route 272 bridge is expected to resume in October.