Local contractors raise more concerns about city self-performance

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KREX) — The City of Grand Junction began its last maintenance phase along the Riverfront Trail on Monday. The section of the trail closed for maintenance runs from Junior Service League Park to the Redlands Bridge.

City Public Works Director Trent Prall tells WesternSlopeNow the trail was long overdue for a revamp.

“The existing surface is asphalt, and over the last 30 to 35 years it had developed large cracks in it, which made it rather uncomfortable for most wheeled modes of transportation,” Prall said.

The section of the trail under maintenance will have detours in place. In the meantime, Prall says those hoping to use the trail should either go out and around Junior Service League Park to go onto Redlands Parkway or use Monument View Trail, which runs to and from Fruita.

The city expects to wrap up maintenance by the end of November, weather permitting.

However, local contractors are raising more serious concerns about the city’s new trail work. Contractors first showed WesternSlopeNow cracked concrete, uneven edges and rough cuts to concrete on city-built trails. Contractors contacted WesternSlopeNow again this week, alleging the city had to rip out a recently poured concrete trail after the blankets intended to cover them flew off in the rain.

Cori Elam, co-owner of Asphalt Specialists and Supply, tells WesternSlopeNow covering concrete with blankets takes technique.

“Covering concrete with the blankets, it is a skill. It’s not just something you can go out and throw a blanket over like you would your bed… if it’s not done correctly, those blankets will fly off and they won’t do their job.”

City officials confirmed city workers had to replace the concrete following what they called “premature shrinkage” of the concrete after it was laid.

Elam tells WesternSlopeNow her longtime colleagues in the concrete industry – who did not want to come forward themselves for fear of retaliation – looked at the trail work and told her the trail wasn’t properly protected.

Elam said, “The reason for having to remove the concrete, they feel, is twofold. One is definitely the fact of the weather conditions and not being covered correctly. The other is that the base work underneath the concrete wasn’t done correctly, which caused the finished product to crack and have to remove that product and start all over again.”

City council members reviewed and adopted an amendment to the public ordinance on self-performance – or the city executing its own public works projects – during Wednesday’s city council meeting. City officials initially proposed allowing the city to perform all work under $750 thousand dollars, rather than bid it out to external contractors. The adopted amendment removes that dollar amount, leaving every project up to council review.

Elam believes the reason there’s no self-performance policy in neighboring cities or states is it gives the city too much power to do whatever it wants without citizen approval.

“It’s an open-ended book, and where does it stop?”

And with nothing but a council vote keeping them from performing public works projects themselves, Elam says the only ones on the hook for future mistakes will be city taxpayers.

“If [the city goes] back and [fixes] this trail five times, we pay for it as taxpayers five times. And this is just one project.”

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