Saturday, January 28, 2023

Waterford residents say ‘shoddy’ town-contracted resurfacing job needs scrutiny

A nearly half-million dollar town repaving project in Waterford did not meet contractual obligations. But according to town officials, Waterford's patch job is just one example of a larger problem booking paving contractors.

Waterford residents complained at a recent Leland Town Council meeting that the town's recent repaving job was done poorly. (Port City Daily photo/Johanna Ferebee)
Waterford residents complained at a recent Leland Town Council meeting that the town’s recent repaving job was done poorly. (Port City Daily photo/Johanna Ferebee)

LELAND — A nearly half-million dollar street rehabilitation project to repave deteriorating roads in Waterford was not done appropriately, according to both residents and town officials.

In May, Leland initiated a $478,296 contract with Highland Paving. The deal came in two-and-a-half times higher than what the town had budgeted, with just one contractor bidding for the work.

RELATED: Waterford asphalt paving project begins, will last through September

Described as a “patching project,” the work’s scope did not include a complete resurfacing of the roads.

It was contracted as a patch job,” Leland’s assistant manager, Niel Brooks, said at a town meeting last Thursday. The town now acknowledges the scope of the project was insufficient and the work that was completed is inadequate.

The complaints

Highland Paving worked throughout the summer and fall to address repairs on two miles of town-maintained roads in the Waterford community. The contractor was 53 days over schedule and completed work in mid-November. To recoup late costs, Leland’s engineering contractor is currently negotiating damages. 

At Leland’s town council meeting on Dec. 20, several Waterford residents, including a sitting Brunswick Regional Water and Sewer H2GO commissioner (H2GO), complained about the work.

“You have spent good money for a sub-par job,” Rochelle Artin, a Waterford resident, told Council.

Artin said “it was stated” by a town representative — without naming names — that the resident’s expectations were too high. To that point, Artin said, “I really think the Town Council should not feel that that’s the appropriate way to handle [it].”

Trudy Trombley, an H2GO commissioner and Waterford resident, also spoke out against the project. She said road centerlines were spottily painted, with sections appearing then disappearing during a drive down Grandiflora Drive.

“It looks terrible, either you have it, or you don’t,” Trombley said. “So this is wrong.”

A property owners association president, Ronald Miller, spoke on behalf of the 211 residents of the Reserve at Waterford. “The work was shoddily done from our point of view,” Miller said.

Miller brought forth safety concerns over a pothole that had been patched “almost continually” over the last five years. He said the “mediocre repairs” should be used to help the town re-evaluate how repaving projects are approached. 

Town’s response

The residents’ complaints were not a surprise to the town.

“Staff certainly does not feel that that’s appropriate work,” Brooks said at the meeting. He covered specific complaints, including alligator cracking and improperly patched potholes, as not meeting the expectations of the nearly half-a-million-dollar contract. “We’re not happy with the work that’s been done.”

Leland is just one client on Highland Paving’s long list of jobs, Brooks said. With 80 North Carolina Department of Transportation jobs scheduled, Brooks said Leland is a small fish.

‘They’d much rather do these larger, multi-million dollar projects,” he said. “We’re kind of at their mercy.”

To address the work in question, Leland is engaging with an engineering firm to conduct an analysis of all town-maintained roadways in Waterford. But based on the lack of available contractors, and amount of work on those contractor’s schedules, fixing the roads is at least several months out.

With other municipalities also incurring aging roads damaged by cold weather, Brooks said the small supply of asphalt contractors is a state-wide issue.


Send tips and comments to Johanna Ferebee at johanna@localvoicemedia.com

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