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Percy Julian Drive right on schedule for GCSC opening

Friday, July 22, 2011

Road work on Percy Julian Drive in front of Greencastle middle and high schools is on schedule to be completed in time for the Aug. 16 start of school. This stretch of sidewalk in front of GMS is also complete, with the remainder of the walkway laid out.
Percy Julian would be proud.

With the famed DePauw University chemist's name adorning the street in front of Greencastle high school and middle school, it is only fitting that good chemistry be credited with keeping the project on schedule.

That was the word at Wednesday's Board of Works meeting at City Hall. Mayor Sue Murray told fellow city officials that barring any unforeseen major complications, the Percy Julian Drive project should be "substantially completed by the middle of August."

The mayor credits the chemistry and cooperation between the contractor, the city engineer, the utility companies, the school corporation and even the neighboring residents in assisting progress of the project.

The middle of August prognostication corresponds to the ambitious timetable assigned to the project when it was begun more than seven weeks ago just as school was out for summer. The goal was to have the street back in shape for school bus traffic when GCSC classes resume on Tuesday, Aug. 16.

Although it might still be too early to hang a "mission accomplished" banner, Mayor Murray reported she was also "happy to share that information with the new superintendent (Lori Richmond) today."

In fact, the project is so far along that general contractor Frank Feutz, Chrisman, Ill., was ready to pour concrete on the section from Avenue B (at CVS) to Washington Street.

With only a minor detail to be worked out by Cinergy Metronet, all utilities are back in order along the stretch of road from Avenue B south to the Greencastle Middle School entrance.

The pipes are already in the ground to enhance the drainage and the sidewalk in front of the schools is laid out, awaiting only concrete.

"The contractor has been really good to work with," the mayor said, adding that it also has been advantageous to have Garth Hughes as city engineer with his construction project design experience. "Because of all that, there really have been no hang-ups.

An excavator tears out a portion of the old Percy Julian surface in front of Harbison Stadium.
"Everything continues to move toward the middle of August completion," she added, alluding to the goal of the street being ready for back-to-school traffic on Aug. 16.

Technically, Feutz has until October to complete the entire project. Finishing work that will not impede bus traffic or access to the schools via car will undoubtedly take beyond the middle of August.

"Also we certainly appreciate the patience of the people who live and work in the area," Mayor Murray offered. "They have been very good, and we certainly believe this project will make a big difference for them."

Not unlike the difference Percy Lavon Julian made in better living through chemistry. With more than 130 chemical patents to his name, Julian, a 1920 DePauw graduate, developed the history-making synthesis of cortisone. He died in 1975 at age 76.

Zinc Mill Road (or First Street aka Tiger Cub Trail) was renamed Percy Julian Drive in his honor in the early 1990s.

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