For frustrated residents of Brushwood Lake Road, wet concrete flowing out of a mixer Friday was a sight for sore eyes.
Local contractors have worked for months through persistent cold weather to construct a box culvert under the north section of the road, which crosses Hinkson Creek. All the while, residents have been forced to make a long, dangerously icy detour when traveling to and from their homes.
“It’s an awful inconvenience,” Frances Bailey said. “We have to go way out. It’s a rough road, real hilly. It takes more time and more gas.”
The Boone County Public Works Department hired Widel Construction last fall to replace two 6-foot storm-water culverts beneath the road. Workers began placing the new structure, which will be 13 feet tall and 25 feet wide, in early November, but residents have seen little progress.
“We apologize for the delays,” David Nichols of the Public Works Department said Friday. “But I think ... the long-term benefits should outweigh the short-term inconveniences.”
Polly Traxler said she and her neighbors were told the project would take 45 working days, weather permitting. Months later, the construction hassle continues.
“We voiced our concern that they were starting too late,” Traxler said. “We knew bad weather was coming.”
Traxler’s father-in-law, Carl Traxler, said the delay is the result of poor planning by the county, not negligence on the contractor’s part.
“I don’t have any idea why (the county) would put a contract out in the middle of winter,” he said. “If they’d have done it in August, they would’ve been done in 30 days.”
Nichols said the existing culverts were in poor shape and lacked the capacity to handle the volume of water in Hinkson Creek, which can rise quickly after heavy rain. He said water has come across the road on several occasions.
“We were concerned about the condition of the culverts going through the winter and yet another spring,” he said, adding that county officials would have started the project earlier had the permitting process not held them up.
The closed section of Brushwood Lake Road, normally accessed from Scott Boulevard, serves as the main entry for drivers headed into or back from Columbia’s commercial centers. The alternative route takes residents several miles out of their way, forcing them to navigate steep hills and gravel roads that became particularly dangerous with ice and snow.
Polly Traxler said the detour is especially bad at the intersection of Brushwood Lake and Howard Orchard roads, an area she said could also use repairs.
Carl Traxler said the detour roads simply “were not designed for all that traffic.”
Widel crews poured the final slab for the new box culvert Friday.
Worker Mark Raetz said the slab will need 21 days to set. In the meantime, workers will refill ditches on either side of the structure and lay asphalt. Nichols estimated the road would open sometime in March, weather permitting.
Bailey said the day can’t come soon enough.
“They’ve done passed the time they had to do it,” he said.