John Fowler with Panola told the aldermen he was aware the previous portion of the project had taken longer than expected that the residents were extremely inconvenienced when the avenue was closed for almost two years.
“This is not just a matter of convenience,” he said. “The issue is liability and safety of your citizens and the students. We have different types of heavy equipment moving around the site and it is very tight.”
Fowler also mentioned that construction by the nursing school, which shares the same area also made the section doubly unsafe.
“We proposing a compromise,” he said.
Panola Construction had been turned down at the end of last year to close the street entirely.
The compromise is to shut down one lane of traffic, marking it with signs and barricades, but still allowing homeowners and emergency personnel access to the property.
Fowler said his site superintendent would put up the barricades each morning about 7 a.m. and the take them down between 3-5 p.m. each day.
Alderman Paul Janoush expressed concern about the length of the project. “Last time it was suppose to be four weeks and it ended up being two years.”
The construction for the first phase of the project, which was not Panola, took much longer to complete their work than planned. The road was completely blocked off to everyone.
Fowler again said safety was his major driving force and that blocking Fourth Avenue only needed to be done for the first portion of the project.
“I estimate about eight months although, in my letter to you, I said 10 months to be on the safe side,” said Fowler.
Brett Moorman, director of Cleveland Community Development, said he was concerned there might not be enough time to educate the public about changing Fourth Avenue to a one-lane street but Fowler said he believed the signs and barricades would be notice enough.
City Fire Inspector Gene Bishop said he wanted to make sure his fire trucks could navigate the street.
“Those homeowners and Delta State deserve protection,” said Bishop.
Janoush told DSU Facilities Director Rob Turner, “Ya’ll are going to get involved too and put some Delta State Security out there.”
Janoush said the road was a high traffic area for the Child Development Center and during drop off and pick up times, parents would need direction in getting where they need to be.
The board agreed to the compromise but said Panola Construction would be closely monitored and if this didn’t work changes would have to be made.