City approves changes to Concord Road Project

Scott Walker addresses the Beaumont City Council.

The Beaumont City Council unanimously approved changes to plans for the ongoing Concord Road Project, but one local business owner expressed concern about the exclusion of sidewalks and a curb and gutter in the new design.

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is managing the road-widening project, which has been fraught with difficulties since it started.

July 26, 2012, TxDOT contracted with Tradeco Insfrastructura, Inc. for completion of the project, agreeing to pay $11,284,746.71. June 10, 2015, Tradeco submitted a letter of default to TxDOT, abandoning the project. Texas Sterling Construction Co. took on the endeavor after Tradeco’s departure.

The city had approved 13 previous change orders, bringing the total for the project to $11,413,198.93 before Tuesday’s vote.

Change Order No. 14 would reduce the amount of the total contract by $375,231.43 by the elimination of proposed storm/sewer inlets and proposed concrete pavement on a section of the Concord Loop.

According to information from City Manager Kyle Hayes, “Roadway intersection tie-ins were modified such that 620 feet of existing roadway will remain in place and will be planed and overlaid with asphalt pavement.”

Public Works Director Dr. Joseph Majdalani explained that the new changes to the project would allow the city to reduce the total contract amount and stay within its budget. He asserted that the changes would not negatively impact the project and would allow the construction company to complete it in a matter of months. 

But when Beaumont resident Scott Walker addressed the council, he said he sold land to the city for the project with the understanding that certain improvements would be made.

“I have probably the largest tract of land that would affected by this change,” said Walker. “When we sold the land to the city, we sold two acres and in the process, there were engineering plans as to what the improvements are going to be. We felt like we had a good settlement with the city and we signed over two acres to the city, obviously with the thought that it would be eminent domain if we didn’t settle.

“With this Change (No.) 14, there’s roughly 600 feet of … the old Concord Road (that) will be resurfaced. When we settled on that, it was going to be a two-lane, concrete street that would be rebuilt. It would (have) curb and gutter, and sidewalks. With this change order, we lose roughly 2,025 feet of sidewalks that would be fronting and affecting my land.

“So I don’t have the concrete streets. I don’t have the curb and gutter. And I don’t have the sidewalks. What is my recourse?”

During discussion of Item 2 on the council agenda Sept. 13 pertaining to Change Order No. 14 for the Concord Road Project, Councilman Audwin Samuel asked if the city had made a promise to Walker to rebuild the concrete road with curb and gutter and sidewalks at the time Walker sold the two acres to the city.

City Attorney Tyrone Cooper said no such promise was made and the city could utilize the land as they see fit. He indicated the deal was done, and Walker has no recourse because he sold the land voluntarily, not as the result of eminent domain proceedings. He agreed that the plans were different at the time the sale went through, with the curb and gutter and the sidewalks included on the original plans, but asserted that TxDOT and the city are working to finish the job that has been a concern for citizens for about 20 years.

The council voted unanimously to approve the change. The project is scheduled to be complete by March 2017.