Of­fi­cials: Route 272 bridge con­struc­tion to re­sume in Oct.

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - By JES­SICA IAN­NETTA

jian­netta@ce­cil­whig.com

— 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-

NORTH EAST

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.

CE­CIL WHIG FILE PHOTO

Con­struc­tion on the Route 272 bridge is ex­pected to re­sume in Oc­to­ber.

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