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Morro Bay benefits after contractor woes

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What began as collective fist-shaking over a contractor’s missed deadline to repave city streets has been turned around in Morro Bay’s favor.

In lieu of holding the contractor, Sacramento-based International Surfacing Systems, liable for missing a deadline to complete the city’s street-rehabilitation project by the start of the summer tourist season, the once-bitter City Council opted instead to negotiate for additional road work.

 On May 22, the City Council was alerted that the company—one of the largest in the state—had fallen behind on promised paving to both commercial and residential areas of the city. At the time, communications between city staff and the contractor had diminished to the point where the city was pondering its legal options.

The contractor had previously agreed to have the rehabilitation of the traffic-heavy Embarcadero and Main Street completed by May 25.

The issue on the council members’ minds was getting city streets—which, as in many cities across the county, had fallen in disarray during the tough budgetary climate—in tip-top shape before the tourists start showing up. Failing that, the council unanimously said it didn’t want any work to be happening in those peak commercial areas until after Labor Day.

City Attorney Rob Shultz reported that the company would be subject to liquidated damages somewhere to the tune of $99,000 if the work were to take roughly two weeks to complete after Labor Day.

But nobody seemed too keen on going down that road. Instead, the council deliberated on the best way to turn the situation around in the city’s favor.

“I’m none too happy with this contractor, either, but I don’t see how [seeking damages] is going to get our roads fixed any faster,” Councilwoman Nancy Johnson said at the meeting.

Instead, on June 12, the council opted to tell the contractor to hold off on the Embarcadero and Main Street until after Labor Day weekend.

Under the deal, repaving has commenced and will be ongoing in residential areas, and the city will receive an additional 50,000 square feet of a pilot surfacing system that’s been used with success in cities such as Lompoc, Councilman Noah Smukler told New Times. The project will provide an additional 10 years of life to those streets, Smukler said.

“Ultimately, this worked out best for the city,” Smukler added.

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