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Highway 34 project on track for Sept. 1 opening

The Highway 34 project is coming to an end, likely on time. Alexandria-based general contractor, Central Specialties, Inc., will earn a $120,000 bonus for completing the work on or before Sept. 1. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)

Central Specialties, Inc., the Alexandria general contractor on the Highway 34 project, will receive a $120,000 incentive check if the project is completed by Sept. 1.

Make that $120,000 minus the cost of a mailbox.

The contractor finished paving the mainline stretch of the highway between Dorset Corner and Akeley Friday.

The shoulder paving should be done by Monday.

Rumble strips and striping will be applied Aug. 29.

The contractor has managed to finish the project on time despite the three-week state shutdown.

And in doing so, Department of Transportation officials doubled the incentive to complete the work before Sept. 1 and the Labor Day weekend, from $60,000 to $120,000. DOT did include a few extra conditions, said project supervisor Larry Randall.

Hubbard County resident Arnold Leshovsky, a vocal critic of the work and the workers, appeared at Thursday's weekly contractor meeting to say his mailbox was damaged beyond repair and he bought a new one. Randall directed CSI to reimburse him.

Complaints about the project have subsided considerably, crews said, mostly due to CSI's efforts to appease residents and businesses.

Trucks were re-routed away from Nevis last Saturday to accommodate the Northwoods Triathlon and the hundreds of vehicles parked downtown, CSI paving superintendent Bruce Johnson said.

It made the event, which attracts 350 athletes, much safer, volunteers said.

Complaints from businesses along the stretch of highway where a detour takes drivers 30 miles out of the way have also ended. Crews are letting all vehicles through if they have business with establishments along the highway, Johnson said.

"It's been a pleasure to hear the comments we're getting now," chief inspector Tim Lundorff said.

Only weather or mechanical failure would prohibit a timely end to the $7 million project "and we hope that doesn't happen," Randall said.

Monday, crews will begin a "mill and fill" reclamation of Highway 64 out of Akeley, milling off deteriorating asphalt, and reclaiming it for repaving.

That 5-mile project will be done under traffic and should only take a few days, Randall estimated.

And Hubbard County Road 18 will either be repaired or the county will be given money to repair it, Randall said. It is a designated haul road, but so many motorists have used it as a detour, a few spots are crumbling under the heavy traffic.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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