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Mistakes lead to more construction on Ulmerton Road

LARGO — If you drive in Pinellas County, you probably know Ulmerton Road as the poster child for perpetual road work.

And now, just as commuters were seeing relief, more construction is on the way for a portion of the busy east-west artery.

Thanks to what Largo officials attribute to errors made by construction crews working on the Florida Department of Transportation project, the city must send a contractor to fix parts of its sewer system in the area of Ulmerton Road and Tall Pines Drive, just east of Starkey Road. The bonding company for the project will pay the city $123,169 to complete the work as part of a settlement agreement city commissioners approved recently.

The work will likely take about a week and shut down the westbound curb lane, said City Engineer Jerald Woloszynski, although the details are still being worked out. Crews will replace a sagging pipe, repair 12 manholes and relocate an additional manhole.

"We just want to make sure we have high-quality infrastructure that's going to serve us a number of years and decades to come," Woloszynski said, "not something that's going to require routine and costly service before it's due."

The start date hasn't been determined yet, he said, but it's a top priority not only to clear up the intersection but to finish out a sewer system expansion project.

Construction on Ulmerton, a state road, started in January 2012 and dragged on for more than five years. It became a punch line for frustrated commuters, even leading to the creation of social media pages for drivers to air their grievances.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Ulmerton Road update: What's going on, and when will it end?

Adding to the mayhem was a voluntary default by the original construction company, Conalvias USA, in January 2016. The company walked off the job and, according to state business records, disbanded last year. Tampa-based Prince Contracting took over.

Woloszynski said he doesn't know who is responsible for the sewer deficiencies, but the city started noticing issues in late 2015 when Conalvias was still on the job.

"We just want to get it repaired," he said.

Neither company could be reached for comment. A department of transportation spokeswoman did not return requests for comment.

A construction company already working on a nearby portion of the sewer expansion project, Pospiech Contracting, will make the repairs. Woloszynski, aware of Ulmerton's long history of construction, asked for patience and cautious driving during the work.

"I know everyone around there is very anxious for the city to finish that area," he said, "and we are too."

Contact Kathryn Varn at kvarn@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8913. Follow @kathrynvarn.

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