Traffic has been condensed to two lanes on part of busy Fifth Avenue South while construction workers address an ongoing headache on that road - the bumpy brick crosswalks.
Those crosswalks are being torn out and replaced. The company that designed the problematic walkways is paying for the work, according to Fort Dodge City Manager David Fierke.
The crosswalks where Fifth Avenue South intersects with 21st, 25th and 29th streets will be replaced. The project started Tuesday and will take four to five weeks to complete, according to Fierke.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Andrea Ortner, left, and Larry Fetters, both with Stone Creek Landscape & Nursery, replace pavers in the crosswalk at Fifth Avenue South and South 21st Street Thursday afternoon.
The bumpy crosswalks have been jolting vehicles for about two years. Fierke said engineers had to identify the cause of the problem and design a solution. He added that the process of fixing the problem has been complicated by the fact that the contractor that installed the crosswalks, Concrete Technologies Inc., of Urbandale, has sued the city, claiming it is owed more money.
''The city hasn't been sitting back and letting this happen,'' Fierke said. ''We've been working and pushing on this. The council has been working and pushing on this.''
Those crosswalks were created in 2010 when Fifth Avenue South between 21st and 29th streets received an overhaul as part of the Corridor of Commerce project.
Problems quickly arose. The bricks shifted, creating an uneven driving surface.
Concrete Technologies Inc. did some repairs on the crosswalks last year. The problems persisted, and in December 2011, Mayor Matt Bemrich vetoed a $43,694.44 payment to the company.
''Until it's fixed properly, I don't think we should pay them,'' Bemrich said at the time.
Concrete Technologies cited that vetoed payment as part of its lawsuit against the city, according to Fierke. That lawsuit is still pending in the court system.
The bricks, which are actually concrete paver blocks, sit on one inch of sand and eight inches of concrete. The concrete has holes to allow water to drain out of the sand when it rains. However, that drainage system hasn't worked, according to Fierke.
''It has been determined that the problems are being caused by inadequate drainage through the concrete, most likely due to the high water tables and poorly draining soils that are common in parts of Fort Dodge,'' he said.
The crosswalks are being rebuilt with a new design that does not depend on drainage. The bricks will sit on asphalt instead of sand.
Howard R. Green Co., of Cedar Rapids, designed the crosswalks originally and designed the repairs. That company has hired Stone Creek Landscape & Nursery, of Fort Dodge, to do the work. Stone Creek did not build the troublesome crosswalks. However, the company has some experience with such crosswalks. It built the ones on Fifth Avenue South at 30th and 31st streets. There have been no major problems reported with them.
''The places where it works, they did it,'' Fierke said.
Crews are now redoing the crosswalks in the eastbound lanes of Fifth Avenue South. Next week, they will switch to the westbound lanes. After the work in the westbound lanes is done, all lanes of Fifth Avenue South will be reopened to traffic.
Then the crosswalks on 21st, 25th and 29th streets will be rebuilt. Traffic on those streets will be restricted during the work.
Access to all businesses in the area will be maintained during the construction.