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Leeway-Overlee Residents Criticize Construction Project Delays

by Chris Teale October 11, 2017 at 3:30 pm 0

A major road construction project in Leeway-Overlee has drawn the ire of some nearby residents, who say there appears to be “no end in sight.”

The project by the county’s Department of Environmental Services involves adding a new sidewalk, curb and gutter to 24th Street N. between N. Illinois and N. Kensington streets, as well as new pipes to help with stormwater management. At the same time, similar work is being done on N. Illinois Street from 22nd Street N. to Lee Highway.

According to a preliminary construction schedule, completion had been scheduled for Friday, July 28.

But when an ARLnow reporter dropped by this morning (Wednesday), the new sidewalk was only partially installed, with numerous sections of pipe standing nearby waiting to be added. And the 5500 block of 24th Street N. was still closed to all traffic except residents.

One anonymous tipster said the work has been “going on for four months with no end in sight.” Another tipster who lives on the street said even worse things have been happening during construction.

“There has been flooding in neighbors’ yards,” the tipster wrote. “Toilets blown up and sewer drains put on people’s property without even giving them a courtesy heads up… Damaged cars. Houses full of mud. Flat tires and the list goes on.”

A DES spokeswoman disputed the claim that construction caused the flooding issues. Instead, she blamed a “high-intensity storm” on August 15 that “overwhelmed the drainage system in the neighborhood.”

“This is a low-lying area that has experienced flooding issues in the past,” the spokeswoman said. “The benefit of this Neighborhood Conservation Project is that we are improving the drainage system and providing additional capacity, which will reduce the likelihood of flooding in the future.”

Residents claimed the project has been put on hold in part due to budget overruns and in part because the project manager recently passed away. But the DES spokeswoman said the hold up stems from crews coming across underground utility lines.

“The county’s project manager did pass away recently, but this has not stopped construction,” she said. “We have encountered unexpected underground utility lines, which is a very common construction risk in urban environments such as Arlington, as most utility lines were installed more than 50 years ago (and some are privately-owned), so records are not always accurate.”

Neighbors said they are looking at retaining legal counsel to try and force some reimbursement from the county for the inconvenience.

The DES spokeswoman said county staff will meet with neighbors on Friday to discuss progress, and that work should be done “by the end of the year.”

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