YOUNGSVILLE — The City Council voted unanimously Thursday to declare a public emergency on the crumbling Chemin Metairie Parkway and to terminate the Diamond B Construction contract approved by the prior council for the road repairs.
The public emergency declaration will enable the city to seek a new contract to repair the $7 million, 2.6-mile parkway without going through public bidding.
“One thing that concerns me is that the road is used by pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists. That road is used for recreation more than any road in our community. We need to treat the repairs of the road as seriously as the use by these individuals warrants,” Mayor Ken Ritter said.
Discussions on the Diamond B Construction contract termination were held in executive session, but Ritter said he does not expect litigation in the matter.
“It was just an abundance of caution more than anything,” said the new mayor, who is finishing his first month in office. “There has been some new discoveries on the road that were different than the contract that was approved by the previous council. I just needed to bring these guys up to speed.”
Ritter said he didn’t feel comfortable proceeding with the original contract because the intention in that contract was for the entire road to be repaired. He said he discovered that would not be the case as was drawn out in the contract.
“The previous council had prioritized this roadway as a priority for repairs,” said Ritter, who was a member of that previous council along with current Mayor Pro-Tempore Dianne McClelland. “Since that time, I continue to see the road deteriorating at a rapid rate.
Ritter said the previous contract, which was approved by former Mayor Wilson Viator, will be terminated, but the emergency resolution passed Thursday gives the council the option to continue treating the repairs as a priority. He said he hopes a new plan for the repairs will be implemented at the Feb. 12 meeting.
“This allows us to expedite the process by waiving the public bid requirements,” Ritter said. “We are still going to go to three different contractors with a new scope of work and come back with the proposals to have the council approve them.”
Ritter said once the new contract is awarded, he’d like to see the job completed within four to six weeks.
“There were more areas of failure than were identified in that contract,” he said. “They weren’t fully encompassed, but by taking another strategy, we can assure that all the areas of failure will be addressed.”
Councilwoman Lauren Michel was absent from the meeting.