Mike Hayek, Caledonia’s Village Engineer, called the Four Mile underpass project a “train wreck” because the project has yet to be bid out, again.
The project, which is meant to ease traffic congestion along the railroad tracks on Four Mile Road just west of Douglas Avenue, has been in the works since 2005. The underpass project was initiated because of a $2 billion We Energies expansion, which was just completed in January.
Once expected to be bid out , Hayek told the Village Board at a meeting held Tuesday night that he doesn’t see the project being bid out until at least this fall. Hayek is still waiting to get the final two right of way acquisitions completed with the Union Pacific Railroad and We Energies.
Once those are completed, Village staff will also have to hammer out a maintenance agreement with Union Pacific, Hayek said.
But officials with Union Pacific Railroad haven’t signed off on the right of way, even though they told the village attorney that the request has been approved, said Ron Coutts, the Village President.
Kevin Wanggaard, a Village Board member, said he has “grave concerns” about the project.
“We need to follow-up and…we need to get this done before they say we can’t do it,” Wanggaard said.
Hayek said he hasn’t gotten any complaints from citizens about traffic backing up, but he knows that time is of the essence on the project.
“We have $8 million to do this project,” Hayek said. “If the bids come in higher, Caledonia will be on the hook for the rest of that. And the concern is, the longer they wait the greater the chance that will happen.”
Still, Hayek said the staff is trying to work through the issues.
One of the main hurdles was getting the right of way acquisition from the United States Post Office, which they now have completed. Officials with Union Pacific said they village needed to get the US Post Office right of way acquisitions done before they would move forward with their right of way acquisition. And We Energies said they wouldn’t move forward without the Post Office right of way either.
“We notified the railroad in writing and sent the post office right-of-way agreement through certified mail at least 15 times and they just fail to act,” Hayek said.
Hayek also said he just approved a purchase order for the We Energies right of way.
“It’s not the village of Caledonia that’s dropping the ball or staff at all,” he said.