Traffic Q&A: Why is Bridgeport Way construction project taking so long?

Question: What’s the holdup on the Bridgeport Way construction project in University Place? The construction company started out like gangbusters, and then things came to a halt. There was no movement for at least five weeks.

The area from 54th to Chambers is a disaster on both sides of Bridgeport and unsafe for walkers. The city is setting itself up for a lawsuit when someone is hurt. — Gaile McLaurin, University Place

Answer: If it’s any consolation, Jack Ecklund, UP’s city engineer, is not exactly thrilled with the delay either.

Even so, Eklund says the contractor, Rodarte Construction of Auburn, is still within the time window specified in its contract. “They still have 57 days remaining,” Eklund said Friday. “They’re assuring us that they will be able to complete it in that time.”

That’s 57 “workable” days, Eklund added. It doesn’t include weekends and holidays, and it doesn’t include days that are raining too hard for weather-dependent jobs such as painting.

The $2.5 million job is intended to upgrade a half-mile of Bridgeport with new curbs, gutters, sidewalks street lights and signals, making it an easier go for bikes and pedestrians. Rodarte was too optimistic in early meetings when it indicated it would be finished by Nov. 1, Eklund said. “That was kind of an if-everything-goes-perfectly date, as it turned out,” he said.

Rodarte began work Feb. 18, 2014, as specified in the contract, but everything did not go perfectly. The contractor had trouble getting the electrical equipment it needed, Ecklund said, and, yes, there were long periods when nothing much was happening.

“This week they started doing more work,” Eklund said. ”They’re paving for sidewalks, and next week they say they’re going to ramp up. There’s plenty of time to get it all done.”