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Few Answers from State, Contractor on Repairs of Patched-Up Crosswalks

Work has started, but officials aren't saying who's responsible for the botched brickwork, or who bears the repair costs.

Construction crews have started work on repairing damaged decorative brick crosswalks along East Capitol Drive, a state spokesperson said Wednesday.

Brick installed in several crosswalks as part of the massive Capitol Drive reconstruction project in Shorewood — wrapped just a few months ago — have fallen apart and been patched with asphalt.

The company hired to handle the $12 million state project, LaLonde Contractors, is under contract until May 15, Wisconsin Department of Transportation spokesperson Dennis Shook said, and he is optimistic they can finish before the deadline. However, it is unclear whether that means there wouldn’t be any additional costs.

Shook had few answers as to who is responsible for the work, who's going to pay if there are additional costs or even what material the contactor is using to do the repairs. He said the state's plan is to get the work done, and worry about the costs later.

Meanwhile, the village says it doesn’t believe it should have to pay for the crosswalk repairs. Village Manager Chris Swartz said since it is a state project, the matter is really between the contractor and the state.

Today's TMJ4 reported April 22 that the contractor would pick up the cost of the repairs, quoting the village as its source. However, Department of Public Works Director Leeann Butschlick said that is news to her. Shook said this may be an issue that could result in litigation.

Shook said a project manager is still determining what caused some of the bricks to fail, but the DOT believes the bricks were laid too late in the year and didn’t have enough time for the adhesive to set before winter weather rolled in. Project manager Trigg Knerr was contacted Wednesday but wouldn't comment.

There was disagreement about the brick used for the crosswalks. . Butschlick said the contractors said the state insisted on brick.

Flooding from torrential rainfall in July and delays on construction material for the contractors pushed back the completion date of mid-November well into December.

LaLonde Contractors could not be reached for comment on Wednesday — but LaLonde didn't even do the work. It sub-contracted the brickwork to Simon Landscaping, who in turn sub-contracted to Midwest Concrete Contractors. Neither Simon Landscaping or Midwest Concrete Contractors could be reached on Wednesday.

The Capitol Drive construction project repaved streets stretching from the Milwaukee River to the lakefront, replaced the Oak Leaf Trail Bridge, modernized street signals, addressed drainage issues and added some decorative features to the major street.

Onederteam April 28, 2011 at 08:32 PM
It was obvious to all us neighbors that this project was doomed to fail when piles of frozen sand, covered by snow were being thawed out with blow torches so it could be spread between frozen bricks in December. Construction specs never allow this type of work to continue during freezing conditions. But you can bet that ultimately the tax payers will end up paying for a private sector contractor that cut corners to receive bonuses for meeting a schedule. Governor Walker should hold these private sector hiway contractors accountable even if they donated to his campaign. Don't stick the taxpayers with this one.
Lyle Ruble April 29, 2011 at 12:01 PM
It's time to look at some facts. My sources tell me that the responsible parties are the DOT and the Village of Shorewood. The village purchased and supplied the brick pavers, which turned out to be made of the wrong material. The DOT was in complete control of the project and was responsible for authorizing the late work. Although the bridge deck was scheduled to be poured last fall, the contractor opposed it and was delayed until the spring. So like it or not, the village and the state are probably the culpable parties. This is precisely why the village should have a city engineer on retainer with all of the village projects that are constantly going on.
N. Peske April 29, 2011 at 03:30 PM
What's interesting is that a year or two ago during a public budget discussion involving the village board candidates at the time, people were questioning the need for "outside consultants." This situation makes me wonder, have we underbudgeted for quality consultants? Or, have we just hired the wrong consultants? If there's no civil engineer on the board, then we need to contract with consultants who would pick up on these potential problems. It's called looking ahead. Who vetted the contracts? Lawyers who specialize in these types of contracts? In my industry? How can a contract not include details about how and when holes would be patched? It makes no sense.
Tim April 30, 2011 at 08:03 PM
Lyle you are totally right! The village does have a village engineer, but he is a contracted professional engineer from a consulting firm and is about double the cost! You people would love to see what his bill rate is... The village must create an engineering department with a head engineer and full staff! We have so much sewer, water & road work to be constructed in these nest 20 to 30 years. Why...why would you hire all that engineering work out? Oh yeah...I remember why, so we the village residents can pay double to triple the cost. Did you see there plan? Way to many different hands "Consultants" in the villages pot of gold. Does one hand understand what the other hand is doing? We can all complain all we want on Patch, but nothing will get resolved unless the village creates an affordable alternative to what they are currently doing now!
Bob McBride April 30, 2011 at 08:40 PM
7 year ago when I was living in the City of Delafield they did the same kind of thing with their downtown, including working well beyond the time that weather would allow for normally. I'd strongly suggest that the people in charge in Shorewood at least contact the folks in charge out there to see how they dealt with these exact same problems that cropped up the following year. If for no other reason than to learn from the mistakes of others. They might also get a feel for what to expect further down the line. My understanding is that replacing pavers has become pretty much of a springtime ritual. It would have been a good idea for the folks in charge in Shorewood to contact communities like Delafield who went the extensive paver route prior to committing to a similar project in Shorewood. If they did, and still elected to go ahead with it, I'd really be questioning the competency of village officials if I were a Shorewood resident.
Lyle Ruble April 30, 2011 at 09:30 PM
@Tim... I call it stumbling over dollars to pick up pennies. When people think of a village department of engineering, what comes to mind is another huge bureaucracy, which is not the case. I envision a department of maybe four people, one Professional Engineer, two engineering technicians with one being a draftsman and an administrative assistant. What is currently paid to consulting engineering firms would more than pay for a Department of Engineering.
Lyle Ruble April 30, 2011 at 10:49 PM
@Bob... As a Shorewood resident I am questioning the competency of the Village Officials. This whole idea of making the village attractive to new residents, seems like an argument as would be an argument for keeping a leaky bucket, you keep pouring water in knowing full well all the water leaks out. Bringing residents in with young school aged children is going to be an uphill battle until the economy improves and those families can afford North Shore home prices and property taxes. It has gotten to the point that the more money we pour in the more that's needed. Give you an example; we are putting in all of the planters that will have to be maintained. How are they going to be maintained? The village will hire a landscape service and then in the summer hire a dozen and a half students. This is just one example of the village not dealing with the current realities.
Bob McBride May 01, 2011 at 11:40 AM
Lyle, this sounds almost exactly like what happened in Delafield. They, as well, didn't really think through the planter situation and ultimately it turned into another unanticipated yearly expense. It really would be beneficial for the folks who call the shots in Shorewood to head on out there and talk to some of the city officials. Perhaps they could at least avoid a few mistakes going forward by examining what has happened out there over the past 7 or so years. Granted, it's a smaller community with some different issues in terms of the kind of retail businesses and traffic that comes through the area, but in terms of weather, wear and tear over the long term, there have to be enough similarities to warrant the time spent comparing notes.
Lyle Ruble May 01, 2011 at 12:56 PM
@Bob... Going to Delafield would make entirely too much sense. However, I don't think that's going to happen. I know that a number of us in Shorewood are not exactly happy with the planters along Oakland, we call them "door busters". We were promised that they would be taken care of, but nothing has happened. It frightens me to think what's going to happen when they build the retail/apartment structure in Sendeks parking lot. I can't wait until they decide to turn the whole village into a gated community.
Lyle Ruble May 01, 2011 at 08:15 PM
@Joe... I said it tongue in cheek, but who knows what the future of Shorewood will be. We are close enough to Milwaukee's inner city, just across the bridge, and I know that many people fear our proximity. One of the reasons I choose Shorewood in the first place was our proximity to a widely diverse community. Two years ago on Halloween a resident at the far end of Woodburn was very upset that we had so many children from the inner city coming over to trick-or-treat. She went as far as trying to organize the neighborhood to come up with ways to prevent the non-residents from coming in and making our area unsafe. She talked the Chief of Police into adding extra patrols to the area and was planning to take the problem to the Village Council. Luckily she was stopped dead in her tracks, but that's the kind of attitude that has found root in the village. thankfully most of the village doesn't support that type of discrimination, but there are many that would like to isolate the village from unsavory outside elements.

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