Almost 2 years behind schedule, residents say Lucks Lane widening project moving at ‘snail speed’

Chesterfield County

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — A road project in Chesterfield County is close to two years behind schedule, and area residents say they’re frustrated the road has been torn up for so long.

The $19 million project will widen 1.3 miles of Lucks Lane from two, to four lanes between Spirea Lane and State Route 288. The widening project is supposed to help alleviate some traffic and prevent accidents. Pedestrians and bicyclists will get some room too.

Fielder’s Choice Enterprises, a Troy Virginia company with ties in Charlottesville, bid $12.5 on the project and got the job. They agreed to finish the project by August of 2019.

Clearly that didn’t happen.

The project officially started at the end of 2017, and on Wednesday, Chesterfield County’s Director of Transportation Brent Epps said the latest estimate is that the project will be finished in May. This puts it a year and nine months behind its original completion date.

“I’m getting tired of barricades and some of the blasting,” said David Jackson, who is forced to drive through the construction or find ways around it every time he drives.

He said the contractor is working at “snail speed.”

Epps blames Fielder’s Choice Enterprises for the delays. He said they don’t have enough workers on the project and that they aren’t doing a good job overall. In explaining that, he said Fielder’s Choice even had to redo work they already did. Epps also told 8News the delays are not COVID-19 related.

“The contractor has not properly staffed the project, and the project has suffered from out-of-specification work,” he said in an email on Wednesday.  “This means it has taken the contractor longer overall than it should have, and the contractor has had to perform rework.  The schedule has suffered as a result of these two factors.”

Epps did not make time for an interview with 8News the following day.

However, 8News is also learning more about the contractor’s performance in other projects.

On Thursday, the state’s department of transportation said in March of 2019, VDOT disqualified Fielder’s Choice from bidding on any more projects for three months, or 90 days. 8News asked for more information about that and is waiting for answers.

We also reached out to Fielder’s choice by phone and email several times on Thursday, but they never responded.

As the work continues, Epps said they’re laying down a $1,000 penalty for every single day the Lucks lane project is delayed past the August completion date. So far, they’ve racked up $528,000 of penalties.

Jackson said he can’t wait for it to be finished.

“After they pull that last truck out, I might go out there and set off a few fireworks,” he said.

Fran Cooper, lead pastor of St. Marks United Methodist Church, said she tries to make light of the noisy, inconvenient, sometimes frustrating situation.

“Sometimes I hand them a $20 and say go get you some beers,” she said, laughing. “It makes it better for everybody.”

The workers have been on Lucks lane for so long, Cooper said she’s friendly with them.

“They know my car, they know me,” she said.

However, the pastor said the work threatens her church member’s safety, and her own, because the church sits right in front of the construction.

“You never know quite which lane is where. It can be pretty dangerous,” Cooper told 8News.

People in the area are looking for the may finish line, but it still remains to be seen if that deadline will be met

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