Airport Road project faces setback


A $1.8 million project to reconstruct Airport Road in Freeman Field from G Avenue to West Tipton Street has hit a major snag.

Work has been delayed as engineers and contractors try to solve an issue with new pavement that already is starting to show faults.

City engineer Bernie Hauersperger updated the Seymour Redevelopment Commission on the situation during a meeting Monday afternoon.

“There is a problem out at Airport Road that we are trying to correct,” he said.

Hauersperger said some of the sandy area under the subgrade got saturated during a recent storm and caused the newly paved road to rut.

“I know we are building on the sugar sands that Seymour is famous for, and we are next to the lower areas of Seymour on the Von Fange/McDonald legal drains,” he said. “I also know the old concrete roadway from the ’40s can bridge a weak subgrade better than asphalt.”

Repairs are being planned, and one of the fixes being looked at is adding another few inches of pavement on top of the existing road, which has been in place for only a month.

“Our concern is for the entire roadway, but at this time, it is a few hundred feet being removed of one lane,” Hauersperger said. “We are looking at adding pavement depth for the entire roadway.”

The road was not shut down due to the problem and continues to carry traffic, Hauersperger said.

“Minimal movement of pavement has occurred since the rutting began,” he said. “It’s a little scary thinking you have a brand-new road and it’s already rutting with a month of traffic on it.”

Hauersperger said the overall cost of the project will increase due to the problems, but he isn’t sure by how much yet.

The redevelopment commission issued a bond in the fall of 2019 to fund the project, which is the third phase of the Burkart South Bypass.

Dave O’Mara Contractor Inc. of North Vernon began construction in mid-April after a two-week delay for utility relocation.

Construction was supposed to be wrapped up in August with the road completely reopened in four months, but Hauersperger said work may not be finished now for another month.

Jon Wick, project manager with Dave O’Mara, said the current setbacks are a result of the unusually high water table coming up under the new road.

“Currently, all parties are hard at work trying to find solutions to resolve the problems associated with the high water table,” he said. “Revisions are forthcoming.”

Others involved with the work are project engineers and designers HWC Inc. and construction inspectors Michael Baker International Inc.

Hauersperger said the problems are not a result of workmanship.

“We have an inspector on the job full time and had all the testing done that backs up that the contractor did what he was supposed to do,” he said.

With the revisions, Wick said traffic restrictions on Airport Road will be in place longer than expected along with the potential for periodic closures.

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