Work to ease traffic woes along a busy stretch of Big Blue Trace near Wellington Elementary School will begin this summer.
The $1.1 million project — designed to improve drainage, add a turn lane from Big Blue onto Barberry Drive and replace a culvert — was given the final OK on Tuesday when Wellington’s council unanimously approved a contract for the work.
The winning bidder was Wellington-based Rio-Bak Corp. The council also approved a contract with Kimley-Horn & Associates for $55,015 to engineer the project.
Traffic frequently backs up on Big Blue Trace during pick-up and drop-off times at Wellington Elementary School, officials said. “This is not an unusual situation,” assistant village manager Jim Barnes said. “It occurs in a lot of areas around schools in Wellington.”
The challenge is improving how traffic moves around a school without affecting nearby areas. “It’s a balloon,” Barnes said. “It you squeeze one end, it’s going to pop out the other.”
Construction on the project is set to start this month, with crews tackling the culvert replacement first, village engineer Tom Lundeen said. That project should not interfere with traffic moving to and from the elementary school, so it does not have to wait to kick off until after the last day of school on June 1.
“Then the big push is going to be to get the pathway and curbing done” along Big Blue, Lundeen said.
He hopes to have the roadway work and sod completed before the school begins Aug. 13, but said it’s possible some finishing work may be left at that time. The goal is to have the path on the east side of Big Blue Trace widened from 8 feet to 10 feet before then, Barnes said.
Part of the work on Big Blue Trace includes raising the road to improve drainage, part of continuing efforts to fix issues the village found in dealing with the fallout from Tropical Storm Isaac, which dumped between 14 and 18 inches of rain on the village over two days in 2012.
The culvert being replaced runs along the C-12 canal under Big Blue Trace just north of Barberry Drive. The pipe will be replaced with a 72-inch, concrete-reinforced tube that, combined with the road being raised over the canal, will help improve water flow, Lundeen said.