City ‘rethinks’ plan, delays Monroe St., Secor work; Gas-main work to wait until after New Year’s

11/17/2012
BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER

One day after announcing a mid-December extension of gas-line construction in a key West Toledo shopping corridor, city officials Friday announced the work’s postponement until after New Year’s Day.

Deputy Mayor Steve Herwat said the city did some “rethinking” about the work schedule on parts of Monroe Street and Secor Road near the two busy streets’ intersection and decided to meet with Columbia Gas representatives to discuss rescheduling.

The mutual conclusion: wrap up work by Wednesday evening, Thanksgiving Eve, and put the construction to replace gas mains on hold until after the end of holiday shopping — and post-holiday merchandise returns and exchanges — which significantly boosts area traffic.

“The city appreciates the significant cooperation by Columbia Gas to eliminate lane closures on Monroe and Secor during the upcoming busy holiday season,” Mr. Herwat said announcing the revised schedule.

“We understand the impact” that lane closings have on traffic, Columbia spokesman Chris Kozak said, and the utility was “absolutely willing to work out” a new schedule so shoppers wouldn’t be affected.

Columbia is replacing about 7,000 feet of gas main ahead of a city project to rebuild Secor between Monroe and Central Avenue next year. While the new main along Secor is being installed off the edge of the street, Mr. Kozak said Thursday the utility couldn’t get easements along Monroe and had to bury that new main under the middle of the street, a major route to and from Westfield Franklin Park mall and nearby retailers.

Work first was scheduled to end Friday on Monroe and Thanksgiving Eve on Secor, but Mr. Kozak said Thursday the timetable had fallen behind because of underground utility conflicts.

Columbia Gas is working out how long it will need to finish its project, which was 90 percent complete as of Thursday, once work resumes in January, the utility spokesman said.

Holes in Monroe Street that had been dug for the project will be filled with temporary patching material, he said.

Mr. Herwat said the “re-thinking” was inspired by a front-page story about the gas construction and its likely effect on Monroe and Secor traffic that was published in Friday’s editions of The Blade. Officials said they did not get complaints or concerns about the work or its potential effect on businesses or shoppers before making the decision to change the schedule.

Contact David Patch at: dpatch@theblade.com or 419-724-6094.