Spotsylvania News

Jeff Branscome writes about Spotsylvania County.

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Rt. 3 Work Halted

This afternoon, county officials told Henderson Construction to stop work on State Route 3.

The stop-work order came after crews cut Verizon lines on Friday and Monday. And those cuts came just days after Henderson Construction learned that it faces $13,500 in fines for 11 previous cuts in the past three months.

These incidents do more than inconvenience some internet customers. A cut in June delayed radiation treatments for 47 patients receiving care  at the Mary Washington Regional Cancer Center off of Route 3 in the Chancellor area. And for county residents having emergencies, these cuts could affect their ability to call 911, especially if they only have landlines.

The problem is a bit complicated. Typically, in road work projects, the utilities are out of the way long before the backhoes and bulldozers start their engines. But in this project (under a model that’s recently become very popular in the road construction world), the utilities easements and relocations are part of the contractor’s schedule.

Under Henderson’s schedule, they should have been moved months ago–before crews got to this part of the work, which involves laying pipes under the ground parallel to the road–the same place where live utilities now lie. Because of a number of setbacks, those utility lines haven’t been moved.

But Henderson has a firm deadline to finish the road work. If the project isn’t completed by July 24, the company faces thousands of dollars in fines. So the company forged ahead. But now it faces $13,500 in fines and will probably have more added for the last two incidents. Also, the company will now have to foot the bill for the cost of keeping four inspectors on site at all times work is underway.

Look for more details in tomorrow’s Free Lance-Star.