Fourth Street reconstruction Phase 1B way behind schedule; NDDC’s unskilled workforce to blame?

Fourth Street reconstruction chartI saw this Fourth Street reconstruction chart in the downtown lobby of the First National Bank of Northfield this morning. (See the PDF of the top half of the chart on the City’s site titled Fourth Street Improvements 2010 – Project Phases.)

I asked EDA member and bank VP Rick Estenson what the delay was since the chart indicates (in yellow) that the Phase 1B was to be completed by July 2 and [sigh] there’s no explanation on the City’s 1999-style web page for the project.  "Rick, the weather’s gorgeous. Why aren’t they at least pouring sidewalks this week?”

Rick suggested that the delay might be due to the fact that the NDDC, which agreed to contribute labor to help reduce project costs in front of its office on 4th St., might be hampered by its unskilled workforce.

Ross Currier, laborer  Ross Currier, heavy equipment operator
Sure enough.

Update 7/16, 8 am:  Ross continues to do his part, however inadequate it might be. He poured the sidewalk outside the NDDC office yesterday.

Sidewalk outside the NDDC office


  1. Julie Bixby said:

    Maybe Ross should have asked the Taste of Northfield Task Force for help!

    July 13, 2010
  2. Kathie Galotti said:

    Seriously, why the delay? The weather hasn’t been unusually rainy–that’s completely bogus. Days have gone by w/ equipment just sitting on 4th. It’s a major traffic hassle, and it’s having a really bad impact on 4th st. businesses. For goodness’ sake, can’t the city engineering dept. light some sort of fire under the contractor?

    July 13, 2010
  3. David Beimers said:

    I’ll second Kathie’s question. I was downtown this afternoon and NOTHING was happening between Division and Washington.

    July 13, 2010
  4. Patrick Enders said:

    If you look on the right-hand side of the “1999-style web page for the project,” you will find a link to “Newsletter #3 to Project Residents – July 6, 2010 (PDF).” In it, you will find the following brief explanation for the delays:

    Phasing & Schedule
    Due to the abnormally wet spring and early summer, the original project timeline has been pushed back a bit. Phase I is expected to be completed by July 30th.

    I believe that I also heard that more blasting was required between Division and Washington than had been anticipated. Something about a limestone shelf or some such thing. I think it was on the News site.

    If you would like more detailed updates, you can sign up for the Engineering Dept’s email list for the project.

    Excerpted from last Friday’s (July 9) email:

    Next week grading crews will concentrate on sub-cutting existing roadbed materials on Fourth Street from Washington Street to Union Street and placing the new roadbed materials. It is anticipated that the concrete crews will be in late in the week to work on sidewalks on Fourth Street between Division Street and Washington Street, and curb and gutter on Fourth Street between Washington Street and Union Street.

    City engineering staff has been on site regularly – I’ve recently often seen them around the corner of 4th and Union. You could drop by and ask what’s up – or give them a call at 507-645-3020.

    July 13, 2010
  5. Griff Wigley said:

    Thanks for pointing to that info, Patrick. I missed it. All the more proof that the City’s e-communication on this project is 1999-era.

    July 14, 2010
  6. kiffi summa said:

    Why don’t you subscribe to the project e-mail notice list, Griff?

    Councilor Buckheit said last night that it has been very useful for her.

    July 14, 2010
  7. Griff Wigley said:

    Kiffi, I am on the City’s email list. It, too, is 1999 era so it ends up in my spam bucket. They violate several of the guidelines/best practices for how an email list is supposed to be operated.

    July 14, 2010
  8. Ross Currier said:

    Griff –

    Members of the NDDC Board had lunch at Mandarin Garden last week and there were concerns expressed about the delay in project completion.

    (A true comment on your faux story.)

    Although I’m sure the communication was structured to assure deniability, there may have been direction to staff to “take matters into your own hands”.

    (A faux comment on your faux story.)

    July 14, 2010
  9. Ray Cox said:

    Northfield seems to have trouble getting street projects completed on time. I was a subcontractor for the railings, stonewalls, etc on a the 5th Street project a couple of years ago and was very frustrated with the lack of schedules, planning, etc. Unfortunately, some of this work seems to be handled on a “let’s see what is in this hole” basis. I believe there is much room for improvement.

    But the delays bring up another issue that sticks in my craw. Some years ago the infrstructure was replaced in front of my home on Manitou Street. It was a very short (2 blocks) easy project, but again, it was handled poorly and went a few weeks over schedule. The city had liquidated penalties in the construction contract, so the contractor had to pay those fees. My issue is that I think those fees should go to the residents/businesses that are being disrupted by the work. It doesn’t make much sense to me to have the city collect liquidated damage fees from the contractor since the city isn’t being ‘bothered’ or harmed by the failure to get the work completed on schedule. It seems to me the people putting up with the difficulties should be getting the damage awards.

    July 14, 2010
  10. Kathie Galotti said:


    GREAT idea!!!!
    Another day today of no activity on that 4th st. block (and here I’m talking about before the funnel clouds rolled in)–that makes THREE consecutive days of decent weather and no activity. Pave the damn street already. And pay the folks at Mandarin and the other 4th St. businesses for all the hell they’re being put through by the indifferent contractor!!!!

    July 14, 2010
  11. john george said:

    I don’t know if anyone has checked this, but is the work being held up because of a code dispute? Since the work must be inspected and signed off on the permit before the next step can be done, this can sometimes be a snag. If the contractor is being faced with conflicting code requirements, it is to his advantage to await a final ruling to proceed.

    July 14, 2010
  12. We have gotten food from Mandarin more often lately to help support them and I must say, gee, it’s delicious.

    We have had a lot of rain and I wonder if that has gotten in the way at all. I don’t know much about these things, however.

    July 14, 2010
  13. Christian Hakala said:


    I couldn’t agree with you more! In fact I believe we had this same discussion at a City Council meeting some years ago when I was living through the absolute HELL that was the 7th Street project. I suggested the penalties should be used to lower the homeowners’ assessments and was shot down by the Council.

    If the 4th Street people think they have it bad, just be glad you didn’t live on 7th Street during that nightmare.

    July 15, 2010
  14. Griff Wigley said:

    Ross continues to do his part, however inadequate it might be. He poured the sidewalk outside the NDDC office yesterday. See the new photo in the blog post above.

    July 16, 2010
  15. Ross Currier said:

    Griff –

    I’m sure that it’s purely a coincidence, however, after four days of all quiet on the 4th Street front, the two days following your post have seen an incredible burst of activity. It appears that the sidewalks on both sides of the street will be done by the weekend.

    I’m not sure that the sidewalks are necessarily related to the streets, at least in terms of reconstruction, but at this rate, perhaps the street will be completed early next week. It would sure be nice to have those parking spots back by Crazy Daze.

    July 16, 2010
  16. Kathie Galotti said:

    A street ready in time not to inconvenience hundreds of residents? That’s crazy talk, Ross!

    July 16, 2010
  17. Patrick Enders said:

    Updates from today’s City Engineering project email (check your spam box):

    Regarding the sidewalks on 4th St. between Division and Washington:

    Crews placed sidewalk in areas where no tree planters are located. Tree grates are still a few weeks out, so sidewalk in that area will be finished at that time. Crews will backfill the walk early next week to aid in pedestrian traffic until the tree grates are fabricated and installed….

    Next week concrete crews will be on-site early in the week to pour driveway aprons on Fourth Street between Washington Street and Union Street, and finish up the areas that can be poured on Fourth Street between Division Street and Washington Street.

    Regarding the paving of 4th St. between Division and Washington:

    Paving crews are scheduled mid-week to pave Fourth Street between Division Street and Union Street.

    July 16, 2010
  18. Griff Wigley said:

    4th St. between Division and Washington was paved and striped yesterday.

    July 21, 2010

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