By Scott Buttram
The Alabama Department of Environmental Management has notified the city of Trussville in writing of concerns it has with the construction under way on the greenway project at Civitan Park.
The project, which is funded by a federal grant administered by the Alabama Department of Transportation, is for walking trails and lighting that will connect several city parks along the Cahaba River. ALDOT awarded to contract to Barnett Construction of Montgomery.
According to Trussville Mayor Gene Melton, the letter from ADEM provides a litany of concerns regarding work done by Barnett that include, but are not limited to, soil erosion, improperly kept silt fences and barren land that has not been seeded or covered with hay to stop run off.
Melton met Wednesday with ALDOT division engineer Brian Davis and other state officials to discuss the ADEM letter. According to Melton, the city has 10 days to respond to the letter and the contractor has about 13 days to address and correct the concerns outlined in the letter or the city could be held responsible for damages.
“I have a very clear understanding with ALDOT and they agree that these deficiencies must be addressed and then the project has to be watched so that these things don’t happen again,” Melton said. “If they do happen again, then ADEM could just show up and issue a fine
. That’s not acceptable.”
After the meeting with the mayor, Davis said his focus is on the ADEM concerns, which he expects to be addressed immediately.
“We’re taking the letter from ADEM very seriously,” Davis said. “This is an area along the Cahaba and these concerns must be dealt with in a timely fashion and it has to be done correctly. The issues must be corrected and they must be corrected the right way.”
City officials expressed concerns over the ADEM issues, but also with the project as a whole.
“It’s the most frustrating project that we have ever been involved with,” Trussville City Council President Brian Plant said. “It’s our city, it’s our park and we have absolutely no control over the construction. I would have to seriously consider whether or not it is worth ever pursuing another grant like this.”
Melton said the project should have been completed in six months.
“I feel like the contractor is not qualified to do this project and I don’t understand how he was awarded this bid,” Melton said. “Apparently he met all the criteria in the beginning. Not only is it our project that he’s working on, but he was awarded one over in Hoover and they are experiencing the same problem.”
Melton estimated that the contractor has fewer than 40 days to complete the entire project, including the ADEM issues, or he could be responsible for paying a penalty to ALDOT for not completing the work on time.