Two public projects involve water related woes

Two public projects involve water related woes

Just as the roots of the willow tree seek water, the city projects involving two namesakes – Willowbranch Library and Willowbranch Avenue – seem to attract water-related issues to the detriment of both projects.

Residents living at the junction of Riverside and Willow Branch avenues have battled water-related damage since the inception of the bridge project in spring 2013. The contractor, David Touring, has most likely suffered the brunt of any financial damages as he works through a dispute with the City of Jacksonville.

What should have been a relatively quick project, four months according to the project timeline, is still considered incomplete. According to City Engineer Bill Joyce, it’s an active construction project. “The balustrades are the last element of the project. Everything else has been installed,” he said. “They have to be fabricated. We do have the shop-drawings approved.”

Back in December 2013 when Riverside Avenue was re-opened to traffic, Touring had anticipated that the project would be complete by March 2014, pending reimbursement of funds needed to order the balustrades.

“We have to go through the CDRB [Contracts Dispute Review Board] process with the contractor,” Joyce stated. “A meeting is scheduled in the next couple of weeks. Until the dispute is resolved, he [Touring] can’t move forward.”

Library closed, work continues
Meanwhile, the other Willowbranch project plagued by heavy rains and flooding is closed but not at a standstill.
The Jacksonville Public Library suspended service at the Willowbranch Library, 2875 Park Street, until further notice, following interior flooding and other damage due to heavy rains in the area in early September.

“We will continue with the suspension of service while the Public Works Department conducts a thorough assessment of the damage, determines a repair plan, gets estimates of the costs, funds the repairs, and then does the repair work,” said Kathy Lussier, public information officer. “We have not been given a timeline for this process.”

According to Joyce, the main focus right now is water intrusion, and the solution involves several elements: placing a waterproofing agent around the foundation, an underground drain system, gutter systems, a bit of roof work, and remove and re-install the historic windows with flashing. “Nothing has been halted,” said Joyce of the project. “It’s a matter of finding out where the water came from…maybe through a back stairwell. We plan to run do groundwater monitoring in the next week or so.” If all goes well, the construction may be completed within five months.

In the meantime, Willowbranch Library customers who have materials on hold may pick them up at the Murray Hill Branch Library. The book drop at the Willowbranch Library will remain closed during this time; however, customers may return materials at any branch location. Customers may put books or other materials on hold at www.jaxpubliclibrary.org and the materials will be sent to whatever location is most convenient for them.

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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