The irresistible force and the immovable object appear to be on a collision course on Greencastle's East Side.
With the start of the school year less than two weeks away, construction work on Percy Julian Drive has encountered an untimely delay this week, putting completion of the project tenuously close to going past its Aug. 16 deadline.
"It will be close," Mayor Sue Murray conceded Wednesday afternoon following a special meeting of the Board of Public Works and Safety at City Hall.
Less than two weeks ago city officials felt good about the project being substantially completed by Aug. 16, barring any unforeseen problems. The goal was to have the concrete poured and cured in time for school traffic to use the street when GCSC classes resume that day.
Of course, that is still the goal. But a waterline glitch threw a monkey wrench into those plans this week.
The construction crew from Frank Feutz Inc., Chrisman, Ill., uncovered a "humped-up waterline" while working on lowering the road grade, the mayor said.
Years of erosion, ground freeze and thaw and heavy traffic volume apparently helped to misshape the waterline and create the unforeseen problem encountered this week.
"The waterline hump has been problematic in dealing with the grade issue," Mayor Murray added.
"They had to obtain a special valve that could be installed and not adversely affect water service to Millpond (Health Campus) when they shut off the water and move the waterline," Mayor Murray said.
That valve has been ordered and will be installed immediately upon receipt.
Otherwise, concrete work is ready to go and will likely take two days to be fully poured. After that, the new surface will need four days to cure until it is appropriate for vehicles like school buses to drive over it.
"We will definitely know by Tuesday (Aug. 9)," Mayor Murray said, adding that she is continuing to inform Greencastle Schools and new Supt. Lori Richmond of all developments.
Two days of pouring and four days of curing concrete will put the timetable right up against the date of school resuming.
The reconstruction effort on Percy Julian involves widening, resurfacing, utility relocation and sidewalk extension in the area south of Avenue B to the entrance to the Greencastle Middle School parking lot.
The project was started the week after school was dismissed for the summer.
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.