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Editorial: A project that won't end

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By The Staff

The multi-phase Alamo Street project has continued for years. The last few months have been particularly rough on Alamo residents.

That’s because the contractor left a muddy mess when it put its project on hold in December. Residents have needed four-wheel drives at times to get to their houses. And a garbage truck got stuck a few weeks ago.

The city and the contractor, Sangre de Cristo Gravel, point out that the ultimate result will be a good one: better drainage in a neighborhood that desperately needed it. Ordinarily, Alamo is a well-traveled link for South Grand with South Pacific Street and New Mexico Avenue.

But residents have told the Optic that the city has torn up their street more than once. The city maintains that nothing has been done over again.

Officials say that before a previous winter, the contract did some patchwork paving, but nothing was permanent.

Still, why couldn’t the city have done the whole project  — drainage, street paving, sidewalks and gutters — in one shot? The city says that the millions of dollars for the project came in phases, so it couldn’t be done all at once. And officials note that if they had kept the money until they got it all, the state would have taken it away. That’s exactly what the Legislature recently did with scores of projects in an attempt to wipe out a budget deficit.

The Alamo project had to be suspended in mid-December because of the onset of winter, so the street has been a mess much of the time since. Mistakes can be made, but it seems that this winter excuse has happened twice on Alamo Street. Should it be a surprise that winters in Las Vegas can be treacherous? Are contractors cutting it too close before winter?

A few years ago, the City Council had long discussions about whether to start penalizing contractors when they don’t get projects done in time. Members noted that Sangre de Cristo — like its predecessor, Sierra Transit — is the only local company capable of taking on most street projects because of its big local plant. So Sangre de Cristo is nearly always able to submit the lowest bid.

We’re hopeful that in the end, Sangre de Cristo will come through for the city. But the residents have every right to be upset with the project’s pace. Let’s hope both Sangre de Cristo and the city learn from this experience.