Mt. Juliet's sidewalk project on Belinda Parkway has been upended due to the subcontractor responsible for the job neglecting to build to TDOT code, according to the city.
The city contracted Sessions Paving to handle the development of what's called the Belinda Parkway pedestrian connector. The connector is essentially a sidewalk installation spanning Belinda from the intersection of the Providence Greenway trail to Sgt. Jerry Mundy Memorial Park.
Mt. Juliet City Engineer Matt
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White said, however, that Sessions Paving subcontracted L&G Construction to handle part of the work.
"L&G Construction is the contractor who we are having issues with," he said.
They were mid-project when the city discovered that L&G wasn't building to code.
Belinda City, as the area is often called, lies within City Commissioner Jennifer Milele's district, and she said that a resident in the project zone called the city to complain that, as he was exiting his driveway, the bottom of his car scraped the driveway apron. The city sent inspectors in response, "and that's when they discovered the subcontractor wasn't building to code even though they knew what it was," Milele said.
"For whatever reason they decided to do their own thing," she added.
Milele distributed an email to 34 area residents and businesses in which she empathized with their plight and apologized on the city's behalf. She also explained that the work that had already been done, initially construed by some as an imposition in the first place, would have to be torn up and redone.
"They currently are refusing to do it, so it will take some time to get that resolved, perhaps a few weeks. [Mt. Juliet] has withheld payment and has sent a written letter to TDOT, who will make the final decision on how to handle the situation," Milele said.
She inherited this project in her district from her predecessor, Brian Abston, who was instrumental in getting the contract established back in early 2018.
The payment that the city has withheld is about $270,000, which is about a fifth of the construction cost. The majority of the cost is paid with federal dollars not only for construction but for the entirety of the project, including the planning and feasibility phases. Mt. Juliet was to contribute 20% of all expenditures in the project, and construction represents the lionshare of the project's total expense.
The pedestrian connector is a city project funded by TDOT grants according to White. Meanwhile, Sessions Paving has begun filling in the gaps at each driveway apron to ensure that residents would be able to use their driveways without risk of damaging their own vehicles, but the project is still planned for completion, which may mean that driveway aprons could again be altered after TDOT's decision is made.
"We are still in the middle of discussions with [Sessions Paving]," said Public Works and Engineering Director Andy Barlow. He declined to divulge any further details on the progress of talks with Sessions other than to confirm that the matter has yet to be resolved. He also confirmed that the city is "working to see that the aprons are repaired to meet the standard specification."
Attempts to reach Sessions Paving and L&G Construction were unsuccessful.