Couple frustrated by stalled work on culvert

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 8, 2011

By Mark Wineka
GRANITE QUARRY — The waiting game continues on Brookwood Drive, where work on building a new drainage culvert has stalled until a power pole can be moved.
Meanwhile, a couple who live on the street and in the middle of the project, told the Granite Quarry Board of Aldermen Monday night that the entire project has been flawed from the start.
“I have lived a nightmare,” Danny Gay said. He described a road rutted and caked in mud and times when access to his driveway was blocked without any advance warning.
Gay questioned who was responsible for paying the cost of moving the power pole from his side of the street to the other. Through the project, he said, he had alternately heard it was the contractor’s, the town’s or Duke Energy’s responsibility.
His wife, Donna Kauffman, questioned the high cost for the whole project on a relatively insignificant street and said it looks as though it will approach $500,000 to $750,000 by the time everything is paid.
Kauffman said the couple’s property was catching “the brunt of everything.”
The contractor for the culvert project had begun construction, only to be halted when Duke Energy required a work plan for moving a power pole and service connected with it.
Gay said he had raised the question about the power pole early in the project, and town officials chastised Town Engineer Jeff Moody in the past for not having been prepared for the pole’s relocation.
Moody attended Monday’s meeting to answer questions for the town board. He said the town met with Duke Power April 1 to discuss the power pole’s move and had a relocation plan to the company by April 4. Duke approved the plan May 3, while the town purchased the necessary right of way.
But the power pole relocation and underground conduit to go with it have yet to be accomplished. Meanwhile, the contractor has had to leave the project to work on other jobs.
“As of today,” Moody added Monday night, “we still don’t have an answer from Duke” as to when the line will be relocated.
He said he also is waiting on a contractor to give a price on the underground conduit necessary to serve Gay’s house.
But Town Manager Dan Peters emphasized Tuesday that Duke Energy has not been been holding up the project. Duke will be ready to proceed with the pole’s relocation, he said, once the site is ready for its crew to move in.
A tree service was clearing branches outside of Guy’s house Monday, and Peters said Duke is still waiting for the underground conduit to be in place.
Comments made at Monday’s meeting left the wrong impression that Duke Energy had placed a higher priority on responding to storm damage throughout its service area, Peters said.
The town already has allocated $6,700 to Duke Energy for the pole’s relocation once the site is ready.
As to the cost of the overall project, aldermen approved a resolution in May for the $450,000 financing of the Brookwood Drive culvert. The town will finance the work through F&M Bank at 3.99 percent interest over a 15-year period.
Peters said the payments each year will be roughly $40,000. Powell Bill funding from the state will go toward paying $375,000.
In the 2011-12 budget approved Monday night, the Brookwood culvert is listed as a $475,000 capital project.
Gay told aldermen he felt as though they had been misled and misinformed about the culvert project from the beginning.
Mayor Mary Ponds asked Moody for better communications as to what’s happening with the project.
Alderwoman Eloise Peeler asked Moody whether the contractor would immediately return to the Brookwood culvert project once the issues with the power pole are resolved.
Moody said he would work toward that end.
“I want to get it finished,” he said.
Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.