Whether it’s a quick question or a problem with a dump truck blocking a driveway, Route 26 Mainline improvement project workers are encouraging the public to speak up and get the facts. In fact, having learned from projects that have had public relations issues in the past — including the recent Route 54 improvements — the Delaware Department of Transportation has hired a construction manager just to handle citizen concerns.
AECOM was selected to manage the 901-day project, and Ken Cimino will be on the front lines to “establish and maintain an open line of dialogue” and “provide excellent customer service.”
Addressing a Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce meeting March 6, he said that, when people call, he plans to respond within eight business hours, or sooner for particularly urgent messages, such as a truck blocking a driveway.
“I understand what it’s like to work in small communities,” said the Selbyville resident. “I get how important it is to each and every one of you folks that you get people in and out of your business.”
The 4-plus-mile project will include lane closures, lane shifts, night work and a detour route in the winter of 2015. And people are understandably concerned about impacts from when construction will be in front of their home or business, but there is no traffic management program that tells people exactly where construction is at any given hour.
However, Cimino said he can sit down with people and a map to explain the general timeline. Weather and other conditions will change the exact plans, he noted, so schedules are rewritten every 30 days. Sometimes businesses find that they are less affected than expected.
Ultimately, Cimino encouraged people to just call if they have questions, hear rumors or want to voice concerns.
“I’d rather have good news than hear that story five times at the barbershop,” he said.
“When he tells you he’s there for you, he means it,” said Diane Koch of First Shore Federal in Millville. “People may not love the solution, but it gets the job done.”
To finish by the original deadline of autumn 2016, contractor George & Lynch will work in multiple sections at once, now simultaneously stripping out trees and shrubs in Clarksville and doing water main work in Ocean View.
During tree clearing, people don’t have to worry about smaller yard features, such as signs. Little things, Cimino said, “we hope to keep up in place right until we’re ready to work in front of your business.”
However, property owners have begun receiving notifications that “construction activities will begin in your area. Items which you wish to keep that are within the state right-of-way should be removed by the above-referenced date. We will do our best to make any inconveniences as minimal as possible during construction.”
Cimino’s phone number is listed on the notice, too.
Actual road widening is set to begin later this spring in Millville, west of the Town Center stoplight.
“If you need to know something, you just need to pick up the phone and call me,” Cimino said. “That’s my whole day. That’s what I was hired to do.”
On-site, people should look for workers wearing AECOM construction hats and vests if they have questions or concerns.
“Those are the folks you want to approach,” Cimino said, since they’ll be more sensitive to people’s concerns than a subcontractor actually trying to build the road.
Anyone can call Ken Cimino at (302) 616-2621 or email Kenneth.firstname.lastname@example.org. People can also join his email list to get weekly construction previews.
“I can’t fix what DelDOT did in the past. You can tell me about it. … The AECOM team is going do everything we can to get folks running in and out of your business.”