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Government / WBAA

West Lafayette announces yearlong road project delay, citing “perfect storm” of supply chain woes and worker shortages

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Larry Oates addressing reporters Friday (WBAA News/Ben Thorp)

The city of West Lafayette is pausing a section of a road redevelopment project for over a year, citing supply chain issues and worker shortages.

The $7 million dollar Salisbury and Grant Street redevelopment project already hit a snag earlier this year when the city discovered that one portion of the project was built incorrectly, and needed to be dug up and redone – to the tune of an additional $1.25 million.

Now, Redevelopment Commission President Larry Oates said another leg of the project – located along Grant Street near West Lafayette Jr.-Sr. High School – won’t be able to move forward because local utilities haven’t been able to relocate gas and water lines that intersect with the new road. Oates said that’s because the utilities haven’t been able to find workers - something for which he can’t blame them.

“If you’re covering governmental entities right now, you’ve been seeing them all kind of cringe because they are putting projects out for bid and getting no response on them,” he said.

Oates said utilities were caught in the “perfect storm” of construction projects and worker shortages.

“Construction companies can’t find workers, and then you have the federal government infusing, and thankfully they did, a whole bunch of money into infrastructure,” Oates said. “So you have all this demand going on for once for infrastructure. This is no criticism of the utilities but basically, they got caught.”

But, Oates said, a mix of supply chain issues and worker shortages could impact projects for longer than just this year.

“It doesn’t bode well for the next year or two for the next projects that are coming online,” he said. “And I know on some of the projects out there, if they haven’t done their lead time basis on getting on some of their products in, there are some supply chain issues.”

Oates said rather than tearing up the road and not being able to complete the project until next year, the city will wait to do that work.

“What we don’t want to have happen is we open up this Grant Street section and have it open for the next year,” Oates said. “We’re looking at a completion date [for the utilities] of September 20. That means our guys would have, in the best of weather, construction season to the end of October.”

He said the utilities have given him “hard dates” this year by which they can have their lines moved but, he added, “I’m not going to bet on it.”