The parking lot at Matthew Thornton has been under construction since the day after school let out for the summer, according to School District Facilities Director Chuck Zappala.
This was part of the maintenance bond that passed in March. “We did it in two phases. We did Phase I two years ago when we put in all the drainage work, and this year is the actual reconstruction,” Zappala said. “What had happened is that when the parking lot was built back 30 something years ago, the fill that was in there was what we call unsuitable. There’s tree stumps, there other things in there. We’ve had a lot of settling over the years which is why it cracked and heaved so badly. It got to the point where it was actually dangerous.”
Zappala said that in order to set things right, the first thing they did was to take care of the drainage a couple of years ago.
“You want the water to drain right. Now there’s the reconstruction, so they (the contractors) removed all of the old pavement and now they’ve got to dig down a couple of feet to get rid of the unsuitable material and gravel and compact everything,” Zappala said. “And the final step will be the actual new pavement.”
Zappala said that the contract calls for the work to be completed by August 15.
The contractor for the work is American Excavating Corporation, Zappala said.
He praised the company for its promptness in beginning the work and keeping to the schedule.
“We got real fortunate,” Zappala said. “They came in here actually the day after school ended and brought in all the equipment and literally started that day, and they had an extra crew available from another job that had finished up. Right now I would say we are two weeks into the project and we are a couple of days ahead of schedule so things are looking real good right now.”
Zappala said that weather can always play a part in construction jobs and typically work is done Monday through Friday, but if there is an interruption during the week, on the other days the crews may start later or even come to work on the weekend and try to catch up.
Zappala estimates that the entire project should be realistically complete around August 15. He differentiated between final completion and substantial completion, which he says should occur the first week of August. Zappala defined substantial completion as the pavement being down.
He referred to items to be completed during the final completion phase as “punch list stuff,” which he said includes striping, painting fire lanes, resetting drainage gates and catch basins, and seeding new lawns.
“I don’t think they are going to be finishing up on August 15. The pavement will be done a couple of weeks ahead. It’s the final details that take up that last week or ten days,” Zappala said.
Zappala said that the district had budgeted $600,000 for the project but the chosen bid was for $583,000, “So we are a little bit under budget.”
Zappala anticipates smooth progress to the finish.
“Most of the tough stuff is done. The pavement has been removed and they’ve been digging down in the area, and we haven’t had any surprises, so at this point, I don’t think we’re going to have any extras and we should be right on target,” Zappala said.
Sometimes there are incentive bonuses in contracts to finish early, but Zappala said that that was not the case here.
“We thought everything was pretty straight forward,” he said. “The hard stuff was the drainage, and that was done two years ago. Even if we had a few weather delays they’ll be on schedule. There was no advantage to us to give them money to finish the last week of July when they are supposed to be finished by the first week of August,” Zappala said.
Zappala said that the goal is to have it finished before Old Home Day because Matthew Thornton’s gym hosts some events, and the school’s parking lot is used for overflow parking. Old Home Day starts August 13.
“The following week after Old Home Day is when the teachers start coming back, so we definitely wanted to have it done by then. In talking with the engineers and the contractor, that was easily doable,” Zappala said.