March 21, 2013
Monica Lara, OVN correspondent
A multitude of delays have moved the Fulton Street extension project completion to possibly mid-April, according to city of Ojai officials.
More than 20 years in the making, the project has been extended several times since work began in July. First, city employees estimated the street would be finished by November. That date was pushed back to Christmas, then again to the end of February.
“This type of project, in a small city with limited staff, is bound to be slow moving,” said Greg Grant, Ojai Public Works Manager.
The contract with the construction company, J & H Engineering of Fillmore, will end in mid-April, and there are no contingency plans if the project gets delayed further, according to Grant. J & H would be financially liable for any work not finished by the end of the contract, although Grant feels confident the work will be done before then.
Other delays were caused by Southern California Edison, which made changes to its original plans, as well as by the discovery of an old railroad station under the site. This wasn’t discovered until the groundbreaking in July. Further adding to the construction woes: J & H Engineering has other construction commitments to fulfill besides the Ojai project, according to Grant.
Despite the setbacks, Grant maintained that the long-standing project has remained within budget. Federally funded, the budget for the street extension is $350,000, and the city has spent $230,000 so far.
Several other steps, such as striping the area, grading, adding signage and establishing the curbs and medians, should be done in the next few weeks.
Landscaping will be installed once the street is finished; that portion of the project will be funded by the city and will cost approximately $30,000.
Final touches will include cleaning the site and addressing project concerns — including correcting a lopsided retaining wall at the south-east end of the street, as well as fixing portions of the asphalt that were weakened due to standing water. Grant said some corrections to the pavement have been made, but any additional issues will be repaired later. “It’s like if you hire someone to landscape your yard,” he explained. “You would wait until the end to see if there is anything you need to fix. You would not want them to do that in the middle of their work.” The city will not have to pay any additional costs associated with these corrections, he said.
A drainage ditch, not part of the city’s plans, was dug as part of an arrangement between the contractor and a private landowner, according to Grant. It extends into the private property along the street line; however, there is some question of whether the ditch was properly built. Grant maintained that it was smaller than it should be, but property owner Denise Wizman said, “The drainage ditch is much too big.”
Currently, the Ojai Valley Trail bike path is open for use through the area.
When the project is complete, South Fulton Street will be no longer end at Pearl Street. The extension will connect with Bryant Circle. The roadway was extended to help alleviate traffic congestion at Ojai Avenue and Bryant Street, which turns into Bryant Circle.