Traffic accidents happen all of the time but in terms of the damage they cause, they’re not all created equal.
Most of the time, the Police respond, a report is taken, and drivers exchange insurance information to get their respective damage fixed.
Sometimes, the damage is to City property, like traffic poles, so the City collects insurance information to get the damage fixed.
In some of those cases, the drivers may not have insurance or the insurance companies dispute payment for the damages.
In those situations, the City will try to seek a remedy through the court so that the taxpayer isn’t paying for damage that they didn’t cause in the first place.
Sometimes the City wins, and sometimes we lose, but either way it tends to take time to have a case get docketed, heard, and ruled on.
When the City wins, we wait for payment to be received and sometimes we have to initiate collection procedures.
When the City loses, we have to pay for repairs on our own, and sometimes it’s a mixture of both.
If it’s a small job, repair costs can be absorbed in existing budgets.
If it’s a big job, temporary repairs are often made until funds can be budgeted for a permanent fix.
Budgets are tight every year so repairs of all kinds get prioritized.
Sometimes the traffic damage repairs make the first cut, other times they have to wait for another year.
For big jobs, once the funds are available, the engineers have to design the permanent fix. That can take 6 months to a year depending on how many other projects are underway.
Once the design is complete, by law the City has to competitively bid the project. That typically takes 3 months or so from the date of advertising to award.
Once a contractor is awarded the project, the contractor will order materials and schedule the work to begin. That can take another 1-2 months.
Although that list is long, that’s actually the short version of what has gone on in the repair of the traffic signal at West Main Street and Spaulding Drive.
A serious (and expensive) accident occurred at that intersection in December 2012 — and since then everything that could occur to delay the permanent repair seems to have occurred.
The signal was immediately temporarily patched up to restore traffic function but the pedestrian crossing technology was not able to replaced so it has been “bagged” ever since.
A decision was made that rather than “cut and paste” the intersection back together in a substandard way, the best solution was to start saving up some funds to do a major upgrade to all of the signal equipment in the intersection.
4 years later that permanent, state of the art traffic solution is underway.
The delays were extremely frustrating but it turned out to be the perfect storm of normal delays and a rash of unexpected delays.
As it stands right now, the repair contract was awarded, the contractor has ordered the new poles and signal equipment, the contractor is expected to start prepping the site in July, and when the poles arrive in August, the contractor will get busy completing the installation work.
There’s still plenty of room for more surprise delays but we’re hopeful that we’re getting close to the end of a long and frustrating journey.