CLINTON — The lack of adequate plans for a road overlay program in 2014 is the reason holes developed in some of the newly laid surfaces, a contractor’s representative told an East Feliciana Parish Police Jury committee Tuesday.
Jurors who expected to hear assurances the contractor would repair the eroded surfaces at no cost said they were astounded to learn the jury already had paid F.G. Sullivan Jr. Contractor some $41,000 above the contract price for the repair work.
“All of this is Greek to us. We’re sitting here flabbergasted. We don’t know what the hell you’re talking about,” Public Works Committee Chairman Jason McCray told Sullivan representative Jessie Spence.
Spence said former Parish Manager John “JR” Rouchon authorized the repair work on several roads and made a verbal agreement to pay the extra money.
“We don’t make verbal agreements,” McCray said, while other jurors said the arrangement should have been presented to the jury.
When the jury began new terms Jan. 11, a majority of the body elected not to grant Rouchon a new term.
“We feel like the design was flawed. We’ve actually been paid for repairs. We don’t run from our problems,” Spence said.
Spence said the specifications for the project to overlay some 16 miles of parish roads were contained on a single sheet of paper, while most roadwork the company does is detailed in a thick set of plans.
He said it appeared the jury was attempting to do as many of the roads it could with the money it had on hand.
Spence said jury workers were supposed to patch weak spots, or potholes, in the road before the company put down asphalt with a paving machine. Because the patched areas were higher than the remainder of the road surface and the paving machine was kept on a level plane, thin spots naturally resulted as the asphalt was laid down, he said.
Spence said the proper way to overlay a road surface is to first patch the problem areas, mill the entire surface and then overlay the flat area.
On the first day of work, the company took steps to make sure the finished surface was flat, but the work required extra asphalt, about 18 percent more than estimated. Spence said Rouchon then ordered the company not to run over the allotted volume for the other roads.
The roads done on the first day have not failed, Spence said.
Jurors also were surprised to learn the parish owes Sullivan an estimated $77,000 withheld from partial payments to take care of any liens that might be filed against the company. They said they are not sure the jury has that much money on hand.
Jurors had asked Rouchon several times in recent months to set up a meeting with the company to discuss their complaints, but Spence said he learned only on Jan. 11 that the jury requested a meeting.
“We had no idea you were trying to get in touch with us,” he told the committee.