Officials hopeful Rt. 272 project will be re-bid
— Despite receiving little information from the State Highway Administration, town officials remain hopeful that the Route 272 bridge project will be re-bid in early fall, with construction starting up again next summer.
“We’ve seen nothing to indicate that won’t happen,” Town Administrator Melissa CookMacKenzie said during Wednesday’s town meeting.
Construction on the Route 272 bridge over Amtrak lines has been stalled since February due to an ongoing dispute between the contractor, Mumford and Miller Concrete Inc., of Middletown, Del., and the state.
But despite the six months work stoppage on the project, SHA has provided few official updates, repeatedly telling town and county officials that they couldn’t discuss the dispute because it was a “legal matter.”
Worries over the project increased in April when the Mumford and Miller pulled its equipment from the site. Then, in May, the company told the town that the dispute had been resolved and the project would be re-bid. In June, North East Mayor Robert McKnight also said SHA officials told him the project would be re-bid with the hope of completing it by summer 2018.
Furthermore, about six weeks ago, Mumford and Miller told Cook-Mackenzie they had just received the settlement documents for review.
But beyond these unofficial conversations, SHA officials have released few updates about the progress of the bridge, even going as far as to call the timeline McKnight discussed “pure speculation.”
The last official update from SHA about the project was posted on its website on June 24. The update reads, “SHA suspended work on the project while we work with the contractor to resolve some issues. The matter is in negotiations and SHA will provide an update on the project and schedule as soon as possible. Thank you for your patience.”
That update was posted the same day CookMacKenzie said she emailed SHA to point out to them that their website still said that the contractor was working on the bridge.
With little hope of hearing anything from SHA about the bridge that serves as the main entrance to town, North East officials have resorted to simply refreshing the SHA website every once in a while to check for an update.
“I’ve sent you all a link to this so you can periodically, if you’re so inclined, check in as well,” Cook-Mackenzie told the town board.