Durham bridge to light up again?

11/14/2013 5:09 PM

11/14/2013 6:08 PM

Remember those pretty blue lights that were supposed to outline the R. Kelly Bryant pedestrian bridge over the Durham Freeway at night?

If not, well, they haven’t been working right in a good while. Not since right after they lit up the first time, actually.

But now the problem is fixed. One problem, anyway – that of assigning blame for the unlit lights.

A contractor did it. At least, according to City Councilman Steve Schewel, after some pressure from the city attorneys was applied the contractor agreed to fix them.

If so, it won’t be the first time.

The bridge, which took the place of a rusty eyesore that police had had blocked up for years, opened in September 2010. Within a month, the lights were malfunctioning.

The contractor said it would get right to work on the problem. By December, the problem's source was still unknown, but lightning was suspected and workmen closed part of the highway one Sunday night to fix things.

By the first of March, the lights were out again. This time, a circuit breaker was at fault. Then, some of the lights burned out even though they weren’t supposed to. Then, a whole section of lights went out and the whole section was shipped back to the manufacturer – in China.

Meanwhile, electricians waited for spare parts to come in and the bridge was inspected some more. By late last year, the technical issues were solved – or so it was said – but the general contractor the designer were at a standoff over who was going to pay to fix them, the warranty having expired, after a one-year extension, in February 2012.

This week, City Manager Tom Bonfield announced, “A settlement agreement has been reached and the city is awaiting the return of executed copies. We are hopeful corrective construction will begin by the end of the year.”

In other words, three years and three months since a string of electric lights went fritz in the first place.

“Unfortunately,” Schewel wrote in a response to comments on email lists, “it sometimes takes a while for the attorney to negotiate contractors into taking action.”

Whether the contracted action gets the lights on – and, more to the point, keeps them on – only time will tell.

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