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Heidi Shaffer, Published October 20 2010

Fargo neighbors want sidewalks finished

Dianna Sandsmark gave up going for walks with her day care kids this summer when a construction project made her south Fargo neighborhood’s sidewalks largely impassible.

“It’s just been a nightmare,” said Sandsmark, who lives at 2310 16th St. S.

Crews began the project to repair rough sections of sidewalk and include handicapped-accessible ramps on corners in late July, said Dennis Ouderkirk, a Fargo engineering technician.

The city is fielding about three calls a day from residents in the neighborhood who are concerned about the length of time the project is taking, Ouderkirk said.

The area includes more than 20 unfinished sections in an area from 21st to 27th avenues south and from University Drive to 17th Street.

“Unfortunately the contractor that has the project is not working very efficiently,” said Ouderkirk.

Adelman Concrete & Excavating of West Fargo was awarded the project, which includes another portion in north Fargo. The work from Elm Street to Broadway is finished, Ouderkirk said.

As the construction season winds down, unfinished projects become more of a concern for both residents and the city, said Dave Johnson, deputy city engineer.

“Everybody is pushing them to get done because they see winter coming,” Johnson said, adding that most cities deal with similar situations, especially during busy construction seasons like this year.

When problems with projects going over schedule arise, engineers “try to instill the urgency on the contractor,” Ouderkirk said.

The city originally expected work in south Fargo to wrap up at the end of September or the beginning of October, he said.

Ouderkirk has been in daily contact with the contractor about the project’s progress, and estimates about 80 percent of the work is done.

Scott Adelman, the company’s owner, said Tuesday that work is behind schedule because the city added several handicapped-accessible corners after the project was already under way.

Those additional corner sections were added in early September and a rainy spell pushed back work, Ouderkirk said.

Adelman said he’s sorry for any inconvenience to neighbors, and the project will be finished by the end of the month.

“It’s crunch time. We’re going to get it all done,” Adelman said.

David Matthews, who manages an apartment complex at 2211 17th St. S., said a section of sidewalk in front of his building has been left unfinished for at least 12 weeks.

“It’s like they just moved on,” Matthews said. “It doesn’t look like they’re going to finish this job.”

Matthews said he “never” sees anyone working on the sidewalk in front of his building, and Ouderkirk said the contractor has had a “minimal” number of crew members working in the area.

Adelman said he generally has 12 to 14 people on the project.

Adelman was awarded the contract for both the north and south portions of the project after the city accepted a bid of $297,945 in May.

The city generally awards contracts to the lowest bidder, Johnson said.

The city has worked with Adelman on several different projects since 2006, according to the city’s auditor’s office.

Ouderkirk said this is the first time he recalls running into problems with Adelman’s company.

The city can charge contractors for every day a project goes over a deadline, Johnson said.

Ouderkirk said he doesn’t expect the city would include such penalties on this project and has confidence work will wrap up by the end of the month.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Heidi Shaffer at (701) 241-5511