Contractor Responds to Concerns About Providence Pedway

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COLUMBIA- The contractor behind the Providence Pedway project wrote a detailed message Monday morning to city manager, Mike Matthess, addressing concerns about his project.  

City council members raised concerns in the city council meeting on Oct. 3.  However, the contractor, Rhad Baker out of Fulton, said he's unaware that his project would be of any discussion.  

"I would like first to state that contrary to the statement made at the October 3, 2011, city council meeting that the city has been communicating wtih me regarding this project. I have not been contacted by anyone at the city regarding the concerns that were brought up at the meeting," wrote Baker. 

He continued on to write that he "did not realize there were any concerns until [he] was contacted by a reporter from KOMU on October 7 regarding a story," being done on the trail. 

However, in looking at coverage on the Providence Pedway, it is evident that numerous news outlets, including The Columbia Missourian, The Columbia Tribune, and KOMU 8 News, have been raising these concerns periodically since the project began in 2010. 

The concerns raised by various city council members in last Monday's meeting, include poor drainage and lighting.  In addition, Homer Page, chairperson of the city's Disabilities Commission, said getting to the park was a concern of the disabled community, as early as construction on the project began.

Page said early on, he heard complaints from the handicapped about cracks in the sidewalk that were difficult for wheelchairs to roll over. 

"If you have a big crack in the sidewalk, well, it's easy for the wheelchair wheel to get stuck," said Page.

Although the majority of the pedway is not shattered with large cracks, cracking is seen on entrances and exits to the pedway.

Sarah Orton, an assistant professor at MU's Engineering School who has studied concrete structures extensively, said big cracks in sidewalks are not common this early after concrete has been poured. Orton said hairline cracks are to be expected, but having cracks any larger than that are rarely seen within a year. 

Although Page said he hasn't heard much discussion recently, he isn't surprised people are still concerned about the pedway.

"It's a problem the city needs to try and fix," said Page.

Baker wrote that after becoming aware of the concerns, he contacted Public Works to further discuss the current situation, and is willing to try to resolve any problems seen on the pedway.