The construction work in Walhalla along County Road 55 near Frost Fire is slated to begin later in the year to alleviate the dirt and rock slides that create a major hazard for motorists.
Posted on 2/22/14
By Lee Coleman
The project, with cost estimates near $2.2 million, is not considered a normal road project but one that was classified by Jeff Daley of KLJ as a speciality project due to the complexity of the issues to be resolved.
Essentially, there will be large retaining walls installed near the road to mitigate the sliding. Pile driving, cranes, moving the utilities and a large construction zone could conceivably shut down the road during certain periods of the project.
“Our preference is to keep it open,” Daley said. “We don’t know yet what equipment the contractor will have to use.
“There is some liability with construction. There may be instances for safety where it may be closed.”
The project is expected to be put out for bid in June with work to begin as soon as the winning contractor’s schedule will allow.
Therein is the potential problem. If the work begins in July, it could adversely affect the July production of the Frost Fire Summer Theater if the road is closed.
The theater, seven miles west on CR 55, depends on the road for traffic to the theater, including tour buses.
The 2014 production is slated to run from July 2 through July 30 on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.
“This is a major concern in the month of July,” Frost Fire co-owner Judith Johnson said to the county commissioners on Tuesday.. “You cannot stop the traffic in July. We are dealing with big buses that can’t go on a detour.
“We spend many, many dollars on our theatrical production. We have to have the traffic.”
Daley, speaking in a spirit of cooperation, said they could proceed and try and maintain one lane of traffic during the construction.
Johnson posed the question of paving the road.
“The grades are too steep,” answered county road supervisor Terry Johnston. “We would have to rebuild the entire road.”
Again, Johnson reiterated nothing could happen in July.
“We can put it in the plan to maintain traffic on Wednesday,” Daley said.
Commissioner Rick Ring suggested maintaining traffic should be a part of the bid.
“It may be better to do it in August,” said commissioner Elsie Magnus. “It is drier than in June. If the bid is in June, I don’t see how they can start the work until September.”
Before any work can be done, the utilities in the area must be dealt with.
“We have to figure out how to reroute the utilities during the project,” Daley explained. “We can’t do anything until that happens. The biggest step is the utilities.”