While Greencastle city and school officials had hoped that the ambitious construction project on Percy Julian Drive would be complete by the time school resumed on Aug. 16, Mayor Sue Murray conceded Thursday afternoon that it just will not happen.
Percy Julian Drive will not be ready for school bus and other vehicular traffic for the first two weeks of school, she said.
Instead, the school system will use a limited access approach to GHS and GMS until Monday, Aug. 29.
"Basic bottom line, that's what it is," Mayor Murray said, obviously frustrated that despite a summer virtually free of rain delays, the project was unable to be substantially completed in time to coincide with the start of school.
A broken water valve and a hump in the road from another water line uncovered during the course of the project ended up as culprits in wrecking the proposed timetable.
The status of Percy Julian Drive itself, will not delay the start of school, GCSC Superintendent Lori Richmond emphasized at Wednesday's school board meeting.
"While we know we have a delay (in completing the project)," Richmond said, "I'm very grateful to the city that we will have a brand new road and great access."
Mayor Murray had a similar assessment of the situation.
"While it will be an inconvenience in the short-term, we will end up with a road better than we have ever had out there with a turn lane and better drainage and kids will be able to walk to school on a sidewalk, not in a ditch," the mayor said.
"I know it's frustrating," she added, "but in the end, it will be a tremendous improvement.
"We most certainly had hoped to have everything substantially completed by Aug. 16 ... but we are not going to make it. (The contractor) Feutz Construction has been a good partner in this effort and they are working hard to finish the project as soon as possible."
One silver lining is that access to the middle school will be open off Veterans Highway as all construction work around the GMS entrance will be complete. And rerouting of school bus traffic won't be as difficult as thought. School buses are expected to all come in off Washington Street, the mayor said.
Although nothing has been decided yet, Mayor Murray said the school has requested permission for a temporary access off Washington Street to the student parking lot.
That would require a temporary entry to be created in the flat area off the south side of Washington Street, midway between the stopsign at Percy Julian and the lane in front of the GHS office.
One issue will be how close that entry would be to the stopsign and how that proximity might impact traffic on Washington Street.
Meanwhile, the intersection of Washington Street/Avenue D and Percy Julian is expected to be open by next week. Concrete work has been finished there but it has remained closed while other construction work has continued.
The school corporation is developing and will be sending out its transportation plan and recommendations for the time until Percy Julian Drive reopens.
The reconstruction effort on Percy Julian has involved widening, resurfacing, utility relocation and sidewalk extension in the area south of Avenue B to the entrance to the GMS parking lot. The project commenced the week after school was dismissed for the summer.
Technically, Feutz has until October to complete the entire project.