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Silver Bluff Road work on schedule for July 31 completion date

April 11, 2019

A South Carolina Department of Transportation engineer told the Aiken Standard earlier this week it was “reasonable to think” that Eagle Construction Co. would finish its work on the Silver Bluff Road Corridor Improvement Project this summer.

The original completion date was Aug. 31, 2017. But it was changed to July 31, 2019 when SCDOT renegotiated the contract with Eagle Construction last year.

“There have been few minor utility conflicts that were unforeseen since then, but they have been resolved,” said Brian Heape, SCDOT construction engineer for District 7, on Tuesday.

“Weather has not been a major issue,” he added.

Heape also discussed Eagle Construction’s schedule for the project’s final stages.

“Right now, the project is roughly 58 percent complete,” he said. “This week and next, the public should expect to see storm drainage work continuing. Possibly next week and into the following weeks, curb and gutter will be placed, and that will be followed by more asphalt paving.”

Heape described the completion of the storm drainage system’s installation as “an important milestone” in the process.

“Once it (the work) is above the ground, they won’t have to be contending with as many buried utilities,” Heape said. “They are roughly 90 percent complete with the storm drainage right now. When that is finished, I think people will see things moving a little bit faster.”

Limiting access to Richardsons Lake Road for a while also is part of the plan.

“Within probably the next four to six weeks, we are going to be closing it to through traffic in order to facilitate the most timely construction of that intersection,” Heape said. “We are trying to wait for a good weather window so we can limit the length of that closure as much as possible. We also wanted to get beyond Masters Week before doing it. We’ll be publicizing it more as we get closer to the date.”

Eagle Construction is widening and making other improvements to a 1.5-mile stretch of Silver Bluff that runs from Indian Creek Trail to Richardsons Lake.

The company, which is based in Newberry, began working on the project in March 2016.

In June of that year, Eagle Construction left the site because utilities needed to be moved.

The company wasn’t able to return to Silver Bluff and resume its efforts until January 2018.

In late May of last year, the company demobilized from the site again to finish a bridge project for SCDOT, but was back on the scene at Silver Bluff in July.

Residents of Gem Lakes have complained about delays, SCDOT’s oversight of the work and how Eagle Construction has performed its tasks. They also have said that stormwater runoff from the construction area has caused problems in their neighborhood.

In addition, S.C. Sen. Tom Young (R-Aiken) and other politicians have voiced their concerns.

“The people that live out there and the people that are traveling out there are ready for the project to be done,” said Young on Wednesday. “And I am more ready for it to be done than anyone else.”

Young has been in touch with Bobby Usry, SCDOT resident construction engineer for Aiken County, on a regular basis about the progress being made by Eagle Construction on Silver Bluff.

“He has told me the project is still on schedule and that if there is a sufficient amount of dry weather between now and late July, he’s optimistic the contractor will finish ahead of schedule,” Young said.

The Aiken Standard attempted to contact several Gem Lakes residents, but was unable to reach them before this story’s publication deadline.

Eagle Construction’s original bid amount for the Silver Bluff project was $5.5 million. Multiple change orders have raised the cost to $6.1 million.

“We have paid out just above $3,237,000 (to Eagle Construction) so far,” Heape said.

Under the renegotiated contract, SCDOT will reward Eagle Construction for working more quickly.

“They will receive $2,000 a day for every day they finish prior to the completion date,” Heape said. “They are working to try to beat the date.”

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