Road's completion delayed in Durham

Staff WriterAugust 22, 2006 

— Durham residents looking forward to the long-anticipated completion of Durham's Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway will have to wait just a little longer.

A version of the Bull City's asphalt memorial to the civil rights leader was first plotted in 1968, months after King's assassination, but it repeatedly stalled because of budget constraints. After years of delays and eventual construction, most of the four-lane road stretching across South Durham was finished in December 2001.

Work on the final two-block stretch from Old Chapel Hill Road to Hope Valley Road was to begin the following spring but didn't because of funding shortfalls and problems delaying purchase of the land needed for the project. Construction finally began in April 2005 and was to be completed last spring.

Paving is now complete, but on Monday the Durham City Council approved a $450,000 contract extension for Raleigh contractor C.C. Mangum Co. The money is to cover additional storm drainage required by state engineers and the unexpected relocation of a water line. An additional delay has been incurred because of "response time difficulties" with Duke Energy to move power lines, according to the city.

Officials said Monday the project should finally be complete by next month.

In a separate vote, the council also approved a retroactive extension to a contract with UDI Community Development Corp.

In August 2005, the council approved a six-month extension of the city's contract with UDI to support a small-business incubator in East Durham, doubling the money previously allocated to the project to $110,000. At the end of the contract term in February, UDI had not spent $8,627.

With its action Monday, the council will extend the contract from February to the end of September, thereby allowing UDI to use the remaining money.

Mayor Bill Bell, who did not attend Monday's meeting, is the executive vice president of UDI.

Staff writer Michael Biesecker can be reached at 956-2421 or mbieseck@newsobserver.com.

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