End in sight on HavensDOT: Most paving work should be done by end of month.
By: Chris Huber, The Daily Republic
The surplus of orange along Havens Avenue in Mitchell is making some motorists red in the face, but officials say the construction project is nearly complete.
“Our town will be back to normal here very shortly,” said Tammy Williams, South Dakota Department of Transportation Mitchell Area engineer.
One of Mitchell’s busiest roads has been under construction since April as the DOT has conducted a concrete rehabilitation project. During a meeting in March, the DOT said the project was expected to be complete by Oct. 26.
“The majority of the work will be done by that date, and the cones should be gone,” Williams said Tuesday.
Fiber-optic cable for traffic signals to be interconnected won’t be available to install until the end of October. Once installed, traffic signals will communicate with each other along Havens Avenue to help traffic flow more smoothly.
The pavement project on Havens is part of a larger effort that also included work on Burr Street and the Highway 37 bypass and was awarded for $4.7 million to Interstate Improvement, of Faribault, Minn.
Williams characterized the work on the project as “slow,” and she said she understands why some motorists are frustrated.
“Our hopes were encouraged when they started and told us the project would be mostly completed by the Fourth of July,” Williams said. “If our hopes would not have gotten so high that we would be done, then it wouldn’t have been as bad that we are still working on it.”
According to Williams, Interstate Improvement left work on Havens to work on other projects in other cities.
“We still had other contractors working on other parts of the streets at the time, so it wasn’t like no work was being done when they were gone,” Williams said.
The DOT was also “a little dismayed” at how traffic control was set up by the company, according to Williams.
“Sometimes it looked like there was no reason for the cones to be out,” she said. “They were waiting for concrete to harden or for another project to start.
“It gave the appearance like nothing was happening, and this is one of the things that we don’t like to see, because we know it can frustrate the public.”
Despite the problems, Williams said the company has done quality work, and she wants to thank the public for being patient.
On Tuesday morning, asphalt paving started on the south side of Havens Avenue. As a result, several streets were closed throughout the afternoon leading to Havens from the south, to prevent traffic from driving over the new asphalt.
Williams said asphalt paving should be done by the end of today. The painting of the road marks will start Monday.
If it seemed like traffic cones were shifted multiple times on the road, it’s because they were.
“We are always trying to keep the traffic as far away as possible from the workers, so we have to keep moving cones around throughout the project,” Williams said.
Because many different contractors worked on the project at different times, it would have been nearly impossible to complete one side of the road and then shift the cones and work on the other side. Besides repaving, other work on the street included new lights, traffic signals and some curb and gutter work, and new sidewalk ramps installed to meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards.
The new traffic lights feature a flashing yellow arrow that means left turns are permitted, but drivers must first yield to oncoming traffic and pedestrians before proceeding with caution.
The new system replaces the solid green “ball” indication that followed a green arrow as a signal to proceed with caution.
The change to flashing yellow arrows is the result of a national study conducted for the Federal Highway Administration, which demonstrated that the new signals help prevent left-turn crashes.
The project also improved the alignment and added a stoplight at the intersection of Rowley Street and Havens Avenue.