CLAYTON — Patience is running thin for a group of neighbors whose street has been turned into a dirt road as a result of ongoing utility upgrades.
Hobbs Street is a small stretch of roadway that runs parallel to U.S. 70 behind McCall’s Bar-B-Q & Seafood. Since last summer, residents say they have been subjected daily to noise, road blocks and disrupted mail service from workers installing sidewalks and sewer lines. The street serves about 17 homes.
They have little idea when the crews will leave the area according to resident George Corbett.
“From what I can tell, they come around in the morning for two or three hours and dig holes in the street and then fill it back in with dirt,” said Corbett. “There are men in the road jack hammering and it’s loud all day long. The house shakes and knocks things off the wall.”
Neighbor Linda Radford said the project has been an inconvenience. Dust and dirt from flying debris makes it difficult to keep her home and vehicles clean. Safety cones scattered randomly in the road cover gaping holes.
“They came out in the summer to install the sidewalks,” she explained. “We didn’t even know we were getting them. The road is torn up so badly that the school bus can’t even come down to pick up the kids.”
Stacy Beard, the town’s spokesperson, said residents were indeed notified of impending road work by fliers placed on their doorknobs and updates on the town’s social media and web pages. The job is part of Clayton’s ongoing program to upgrade utility services and repave roads in disrepair. She explained the work on Hobbs Street is extensive with the road needing repairs literally from top to bottom.
Town says no problems
George Corbett says it’s been frustrating to see the road in disarray especially when crews seem not to be making any visible progress. He noted that after new sidewalks were in place workers returned only to tear them up again.
Beard said the Hobbs Street work is on schedule and the only hiccup came when a section of sidewalk was installed prematurely by the contractor, the Fred Smith Company. About four 5’ x 5’ panels of new cement had to be dug up to accommodate the installation of sewer lines. The town will not be responsible for costs incurred by the error.
“There were, in fact, some of this going on where the residents did observe some parts of the sidewalk being put in and then taken back out,” said Beard.
Town manager Steve Biggs said residents need to be mindful that there are multiple phases of work taking place. Crews complete one stage at a time in order not to interrupt utility services to the community.
“These projects are very challenging,” he said. “But once they’re done the value is there for a lifetime.”
Mail delivery has also been impacted. Corbett said workers removed mailboxes with many not returned to their original location. One was found tied to a street sign. Due to sporadic delivery, both Corbett and Radford have had to make trips to the post office to retrieve their mail.
Clayton postmaster Becky Shires agreed road repair work has been a constant issue for her carriers since last summer. She said Hobbs Street is just one area that has forced the agency to make adjustments to their routes.
“We usually go first thing in the morning hoping to beat the construction,” said Shires. “We actually get out and walk the streets that are being paved. If we cannot attempt the roads in the morning, we go back at the end of the day and try to deliver to them.”
She said a source of frustration is mailboxes being removed by construction workers and not returned to their proper location. If a box has been relocated, it’s impossible for carriers to stay organized.
“We just go down one side of the road,” explained Shires. “Moving a box once a delivery route has been established causes disruption. The utility company is responsible for putting them back in their proper location.”
Beard stressed major improvement projects and utility work takes time but there should be an end in sight for those on Hobbs Street.
“At this point, the street is ready for asphalt to be laid down,” she said. “Weather permitting, the road will be done by the end of the year.”