By Lauren Shortnacy
When construction on Farm Road 1735 (Chapel Hill Road) past Chapel Hill High School and Northeast Texas Community College began, uncertainty about completion dates were voiced throughout the revamping period and unhappy long waits ensued.
Now as the school district and community college begin their spring semesters, drivers can find a much wider road to drive upon on the way to school. But there are still changes and finishing touches that need to be made, even after months of waiting for the completion of the project.
According to Titus County Judge Brian Lee, the pavement part of FM 1735 has been completed.
“The pavement (surface) on FM 1735 is actually asphalted, and that part is completely done,” Lee said.
Originally FM 1735 was a part of the new loop project, FM 4000, which connects, the road next to Tractor Supply on South Jefferson and Chapel Hill Road with two major intersections – County Road 2348 (Union Hill Road) and FM 1735.
According to Judge Lee, FM 4000, the main segment that is driving this project, will not be completed until May 15th at the earliest and that depends on the temperature. TXDOT explained that construction was put off until the weather warmed up and permitted the project to continue with the seal coat, the final driving surface. Because of the need to put the seal coat on the road, the Sept. 1 deadline was missed.
Lee explained in the fall that there were two options available for the incomplete roads. One, the construction company could either go ahead and seal coat 1735 and asphalt CR 2348 afterwards, or two, 1735 could be asphalted to ensure the quality of the road.
“Asphalt is actually a better surface and was not originally part of the contract bid, but because James Construction Group failed to meet the original deadline for completing the project, they presented the idea of laying asphalt,” Lee said.
Although the pavement has been laid and is asphalted, there are still more changes that need to be completed. When the road is completely finished, drivers can expect flashing yellow lights on the north and southbound FM 1735 road, and a flashing red light on FM 4000 where it dead-ends into 1735.
The date set for FM 1735 to be completely finished is May 15 according to Lee, or the construction company will actually face consequences from the county.
“James Construction Group has until May 15 to finish the project without a penalty,” Lee said. “If they don’t finish by then, there are substantial monetary fines they have to pay for every day they miss.”
Lee said the fine for not meeting the deadline is four or five thousand dollars per day until the project is finished.
The judge had shared his thoughts about the James Construction Group in the early fall, after the first deadline had been missed in October, and the question about the new deadline was inquired. Lee said, “Even if they (the company) gave me a date, with their track record, I’m not sure I’d believe it.”
Even now, Lee still has his doubts on the productiveness of the company.
“The James Construction Group are not the best I have ever seen,” the judge said. “And that’s one of the reasons there have been delays.”