Emotions were high and tempers flared at last week’s White Pine Regional Transportation Commission meeting.

An agenda item to discuss a possible extension on the Murry Street Project drew public comment by several residents who reside on Murry Street

Melody Vancamp spoke of the dust that the project brought, and noted that the street was never watered during the July and August months.

“I watched a leaking water truck sit near Cunningham’s house that never moved,” she said “Q&D Construction did several miles of Aultman and Great Basin in eight months, and the Murry Street project is three blocks long and we’ve been given a BMX track to drive on.”

Another Murry Street resident, Richard Seimer, said, “I’ve lived there for 25 years, this whole situation to me has been a travesty. I noticed in the beginning the people doing it were not competent enough to do it, what really bothers me is the lack of communication. A letter was sent that they would be done at the end of October, and for two months nothing was done.”

Several others making public comments noted they hadn’t been receiving their mail from the post office because there was no way for the mail truck to access the road safely. In addition, Ely Disposal Service has not been able to pick up residents’ trash from the curb.

“How are you going to plow the snow on our street three weeks from now?” Sharon Saderup said. “I’ve had the same address on Murry Street for 50 years, I have to crawl over dirty to climb up to get to my stairs. Who will be liable if I fall?”

Executive Director of the White Pine County Tourism and Recreation Board, Kyle Horvath, a Murry Street resident, spoke during public comment. Horvath noted the first few months of construction was fine, “what frustrated me is that the construction has hiccups. A citizen who goes to the company and asks what the hold up is is told that it’s Great Basin Engineering, and the City of Ely, and they are not to blame.”

Horvath spoke of what many during public comment mentioned was that no one had any answers when residents asked who was responsible.

“I have a daughter to take to school,” he said. “I walk a block and a half while being exposed to rebar, with open city lines showing, while navigating through six inches of mud, you have a serious problem, and all I get out of JCR is excuses. I’m afraid we’re going to put the hammer down on them, because it’s going to be rushed, because they rushed it, because they spent four months creating a s— show.”

Casey Jones, contractor and owner of JCR approached the podium, and residents in the crowd began throwing out comments, questions when the project was going to be completed.

Howe, board member and Chairman of the Commission, reminded the crowd that the public comment period was over.

Jones apologized to the crowd, “I don’t know if everyone knows that this is actually two projects, and there was a two-month break.”

Jones went on to explain that a lot of the issues they were having we’re the measurements of how far down they were to remove the dirt, noting that some of the water lines were so shallow, it caused lines to break.

“That was done by a previous contractor in the 90s,” he said. “Dave Miller has been down there, BJ Almberg has been down there, we have broke surfaces, it is a mess, we have had snow, we are trying to dry things up.

“We are trying to base up the road, but there have been a lot of unknowns.”

White Pine County Regional Transportation Commission Board member Wayne Cameron asked Jones if he could have the project completed in 10 days.

Jones said, “The base and the asphalt will have to go within the next 10 days, the concrete may have to wait until next year.”

Another board member for the White Pine County Regional Transportation Commission, Jim Alworth, questioned the engineering process in this project.

“I’m going back to engineering, where the water lines were marked? Did the engineer provide that to you? Jones said. “They marked the power, the valves they knew were there, there were valves that I think some guys didn’t knew were there.”

Alworth said, “I feel engineering was at fail.”

B.J. Almberg, owner of. Basin Engineering, explained that the contract specs had everything required on an engineering level.

Alworth, “I drove up there plenty of times, the city project was the sewer line, but one of the things I have an issue with is a lack of safety. You should have cones up there, I’m putting this back on the engineer company, they should have said. ‘Hey casey put some more safety features here.’ Somebody had to give this man guidance.”

Horvath said, “What about the uncapped rabar?”

Jones said, “I will address that today with my guys.”

Jones noted that he has taken on projects like this before, but asphalt was something new.

Alworth said, “Just advice, put more heat on your engineering company. Use your resources, the city all we can contribute, is to fix water leaks.”

Almberg said, “You talk about safety issues, the contract clearly stated that we are not responsible, the RTC is not responsible, it is their responsibility to maintain OSHA standards. It’s clearly defined in the contract. The things you mentioned are the contractor’s responsibilities.”

Howe said, “Enough of the blame game, everyone has a piece of the pie somewhere, the item here as a possible extension of the contract. You said you can get the paving done, and liveable.”

“You said you’re not going to get all this s— done before, excuse my french, before the 31st. If we can get a product out there that is satisfactory to the citizens in that section of Murry Street that’s why we are here. Instead of everyone saying he should have done this or he should have done that. Personally you said we can’t make it, we have to offer an extension, can you get it done, you’ve already said what you can do, and you can only do what you can do. Can you get this done in 30 days weather permitting?”

Jones said, “Yes.”

Cameron suggested giving Jones the go ahead, and holding a special meeting this week.

Howe disagreed. “We already know he can’t get that done, so why not just set the extension now,” he said.

Almberg commented to Jones hoping to see a more steady crew on site. Jones fired back asking how he was supposed to have 10 guys standing around with nothing to do while dirt was being moved.

Howe said, “Let’s get started, and get the people able to drive back up and down their road in the next 30 days, I don’t like this blame game, it’s a bad deal that’s going on right now, let’s get the roads and sidewalks fixed.”

A motion was made by Howe. “My motion is going to be that we author a 10 day extension to complete the project,” he said. “And an additional 30 days to complete the sidewalk, anything that comes up, you have to come back and ask again, but we don’t need to meet over and over.”

The motion was approved unanimously.

As of this week, dirt has been filled back in on the road up to the sidewalks, but with Monday’s rain and snowstorm, the project will have to dry up before moving forward.