New Bill Forces Companies to Finish Construction

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January 25, 2006
Georgia Sate Representative Ben Harbin introduced a bill this week after hearing complaints about slow progress on Furys Ferry Road. The bill would force contractors to finish old work before they start something new.

"We expect those jobs to be done in a timely manner because it saves the state money, and that alone has helped us gain support just knowing what this could do for us," Harbin said.

Now, the bill has a new edition. It will apply to all construction projects.

Staying on track is the goal for project manager James McDaniel. He says the legislation seems like a great idea, but delays can be common.

"Something in the field doesn't work like it does on paper, cause you can make anything work on paper," McDaniel said.

Contractors have to predict when they will finish the project several months before construction starts.

Construction worker Cornelius Smith knows that muddy scenes like this are hard to predict.

"Working in mud and stuff, it's hard, you don't wanna slip and fall," Smith said.

And conflicts with utilities are another issue. Things like power lines often slow construction even more.

Utility companies often need to move the poles away from the road before the contractor can finish roadwork. But, the Columbia County Office of Construction and Maintenance says that can't always happen quickly.

"They'll only do utility moves when they have people in the area."

Sometimes utilities respond to disasters, like hurricane Katrina. And that can put contractors even farther behind.

Columbia County Construction Manager Ronnie Hutto says contractors don't get fined if the utility companies get behind.

"Yu can't penalize them for that, cause they're doing smething to help other people,” Hutto said.

But he says conflicts between the two are still common. That's why James McDaniel doesn't think the legislation would be effective.

"I don't see it happening anytime soon," McDaniel said.

But Cornelius Smith thinks it could keep him out of this Mess.

"You just have to deal with it to survive," Smith said.

Dealing with the delays is exactly what the legislation aims to do. Representative Harbin says the house could debate the bill in the next few weeks. But it has to pass several committees before it gets to that point.