Oak Street paving project plagued with delays

Published 3:52 am Wednesday, September 26, 2007

By By ERIKA PICKLES / Niles Daily Star
NILES – Please be patient!
That's the message employees with Pavement Management Systems wants to send to Niles residents frustrated with the road work currently in progress on Oak and Yankee Streets.
Work began last week, however, equipment failure caused the construction to be delayed a few days. This week, employees have been hard at work trying to get the road complete before this weekend's Apple Festival.
Work has included topping the road and seal coating it.
"People knew this was coming. We've had signs posted for two weeks, but they just don't pay attention. They come here and turn around and do burn outs because they are upset and that doesn't solve anything, plus it's illegal," Chris Piefer, traffic control worker for the company said Tuesday afternoon.
Most drivers will be pleased to hear that construction on the road should be complete today, but Oak Street between 17th and 13th Streets will be closed. "I think people have got the word out because traffic has been a lot lighter today," Piefer said. There are plenty of alternative routes people can take to avoid waiting in long lines, including all of the side streets that surround the area, Lake Street and even U.S. 12.
Lee Whitcomb was traveling through Niles from Mishawaka to deliver goods to a local company and was unaware of the construction.
"I didn't know about the road work, I was just given directions and told to go. I don't know Niles that well yet so I don't know what other routes to take. I guess I'll just wait," he said.
Linda Schmidt was on her way to pick up her daughter from school at Ring Lardner and said she was unaware that the construction was coming all the way to 17th.
"Yesterday they were clear down by Carberry and I got stuck there. I thought I was ok today, but I thought wrong. I think I've been sitting here almost five minutes. I know they have a job to do, but with only one lane open only so many cars can go. It's just nuts," she said.
Piefer also added that many people try to sneak their way around the cones and onto sections of the road they aren't supposed to be in.
"A lot of drivers disregard us, but the need to understand that we are out here for a reason. Too many people will try to ignore us and actually drive across the wet surfaces. That's only going to mess up your vehicle, especially the stuff we have on the road right now. It ruins tires, can mess up your front end alignment and if it gets on the paint, it's not coming off," she said.
Not to mention that if someone happens to hit injure a worker, they can face serious fines and even jail time.
The traffic backups can cause headaches, but the end result is much better for drivers. Smoother roads are not only a more comfortable ride, but they can be better for your vehicle and the actual road itself.