The Oklahoma City contractor building new sidewalks in Lawton is once again weeks ahead of schedule — this time, on a sidewalk that will serve students on the city's west side.
And, completed pavement already is being used.
"A guy said he's already seen a kid on a bike using it," said Mike Jones, the City of Lawton's ADA coordinator, about work that MTZ Construction already has completed along the north side of West Gore Boulevard, across the street from Eisenhower High and Eisenhower Middle schools.
MTZ Construction was the designated "as needed" contractor selected by the City Council in February to tackle a $2 million, two-year project that city leaders said will add new sidewalks in locations where heavy pedestrian traffic has proven paved surfaces are needed. The firm completed its first project — a sidewalk along a well-worn path on the west side of North Sheridan Road, between Smith Avenue and Cache Road — about three weeks ahead of schedule and its crews immediately moved to West Gore Boulevard, where a sidewalk will be extended between Northwest 53rd and Northwest 67th streets.
"It's going so fast, you can't believe it," Jones said. "They're just killing it.
The sidewalk project may be one of the few things in Lawton benefitting from the hot, dry summer. Jones said the heat has been good for construction, explaining that between the Sheridan Road and West Gore Boulevard sidewalk projects, the contractor has lost only one day to weather.
"It's been really good that way," he said.
It's also allowing Lawton Public Schools officials to breathe a little easier. Jones said his stated goal for the project when the contractor began work in June was that work crews had to be west of Northwest 56th Street, one of the side streets north of Eisenhower Middle School, when traffic began ramping up for the new school year.
"I wanted them to be past that point before the first day of school, and they are well beyond that," he said, adding while the sidewalk won't be completed all the way to Northwest 67th Street when LPS classes begin Aug. 11, contractors already have cleared the intersection immediately north of the middle school.
Jones isn't certain when the sidewalk will be done, but he knows MTZ Construction won't need their 150-day timetable that calls for project completion in November.
city officials and neighborhood homeowners are happy with a new sidewalk that will keep students from walking in the mud during rainy weather and keep them off a busy arterial when they want to avoid the mud. The project was designed to meld with sidewalks already in the area, and some inferior sidewalk was replaced at the high school. The contractor also built a new bus stop area for students who use LATS; Jones said that concrete pad is large enough to hold benches and shelters, should that project be done.
As work is progressing on West Gore Boulevard, design plans already are being developed for the third priority project: Northwest 53rd Street, from existing pavement on the West Gore Boulevard end to Cache Road. The project represents a change in priorities that came with City Council discussions from Ward 6 Councilman Sean Fortenbaugh and Ward 8 Councilman Randy Warren. The west Lawton representatives said Northwest 53rd Street is heavily used by students walking to the Eisenhower schools, much more so than West Gore Boulevard between Southwest 52nd and Southwest 38th streets.
Jones said city staff will have design plans for that new project waiting, so work can begin as soon as West Gore Boulevard is completed.
"They finished Sheridan Road on Thursday and the very next day were moving equipment down to Gore," he said, adding the new project will be an easier transition because of its proximity to their existing work site.
Some sidewalk already exists on Northwest 53rd Street; the new project will place new pavement north of the Wolf Creek bridge, moving north along the west side of the street to Cache Road (although some sidewalk exists there as well).