FARMINGDALE — Safety concerns have selectmen prepared to withhold payment from contractors tasked with paving Northern Avenue.

Town officials think a divot in a paved portion of the road poses a safety hazard. As a result, selectmen moved unanimously at their meeting Wednesday to inform Wayne-based contractor C.H. Stevenson Inc. to remove improper materials used on the job and correct the work in accordance with the contract. Once the memo is received, selectmen said, the contractor would have 10 days to fix the road.

C.H. Stevenson project manager Adam Lake said Thursday he has not received a memo from the town and declined to comment before he knew what work was to be corrected.

“I wasn’t at the meeting and I really need to know what they think the issues really are,” he said.

The section of Northern Avenue in question is westbound, with a slight right turn between Lindsey Lane and Rutabeggar Lane. Road Commissioner Steve Stratton said a divot near the seam of the new pavement and the old pavement rocks cars from right to left, toward the center of the road, increasing the likelihood of a collision.

“When you hit it at 30 (or) 40 miles per hour, it’ll make you dart left into the centerline,” he said. “It could be dangerous for an inexperienced driver in snowy or icy conditions.”

Further, Stratton and Selectman Jim Grant said at the Wednesday meeting that the wrong type of binder was used in the asphalt, and it should be dug up and replaced.

Wayne-based contractor C.H. Stevenson Inc. was awarded the contract to undertake “drainage modifications” on that stretch of road, based on a $37,025 bid back in February 2017. The company also is contracted to do work in Hayford Heights, but that project was stalled for a year while new plans were written. Town Clerk Rose Webster said that also pushed back the Northern Avenue contract.

When the project was picked up again this year, a new bid was submitted in the amount of $46,350, which Webster attributed to a rising cost of materials.

Stratton said he met with project manager Adam Lake on Wednesday at the job site to sort out the issues. He told selectmen he had told Lake the road was unsafe for the general public and commercial vehicles.

“The loggers coming up through here have stopped me and talked to me,” Stratton said at the meeting. “They say, ‘What’s going on with the road? It throws us all over hell.'”

Stratton said C.H. Stevenson hired a subcontractor to do the paving.

The town has discussed this section of the road at meetings since Sept. 5. On Oct. 17, Grant said the engineer who drew up the plans, Jim Coffin, from E.S. Coffin Engineering and Surveying, would be prompted to take a look at the road and compare it to the original design.

“It is our opinion that the work on Northern Avenue, the work performed by C.H. Stevenson, was not done to specifications,” Grant said last month, when the invoice was held for review. “There is deficiencies in the paved surface and the materials used were not the correct specification or correct grade.”

Farmingdale Road Commissioner Steve Stratton talks on Thursday about the pavement level on a recently repaired section of Northern Avenue in Farmingdale. Staff photo by Joe Phelan

Coffin said his company has not released a report about the road’s condition, so it would be premature for him to comment.

“We did the design and then we heard from the town that there were issues out there,” Coffin said. “We are putting our best foot forward for the town.”

He did say that the section of Northern Avenue in question is a “curve into a crowned section” and it would need to be “blended” — no hard edge where the pavement stops — on both sides.

Grant said Wednesday that he has spoken with Coffin and he told Grant that the road “was not correct.”

The town, according to its contract, has three options to get the work done. First, the town could terminate the contract and pay for all work deemed “satisfactorily complete,” and reallocate the funds for the job to hire another contractor to finish the job. Second, they could substitute a contractor using funds allocated to the original contractor. Lastly, legal action could be pursued to force the original contractor to finish the work — and pay for the town’s legal fees.

The old section of Northern Avenue in Farmingdale, at left, seen Thursday, is slightly higher than the new, darker pavement level on a recently repaired section of the avenue. Staff photo by Joe Phelan

Stratton said Thursday that C.H. Stevenson has offered to come back and complete the work, but no date has been set. He said he hoped the work is done by winter when slippery driving conditions are more common.

Grant agreed with Stratton’s assessment that the road needs to be fixed before winter.

“The first slippery surface, someone’s going to be in the woods,” he said. “I was happy until they put the asphalt down.”

Before setting the stipulation that the work must be done within 10 days of C.H. Stevenson’s notification, Grant said asphalt manufacturers will likely shut down operations within a month, making the repairs urgent.

“This is emergency time,” he said.

Sam Shepherd — 621-5666

[email protected]

Twitter: @SamShepME

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