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Village officials say CenturyLink causing delays

Originally published in the Johnstown Independent 

Sunday July 12, 2015 7:35 PM

Johnstown officials said they are still waiting for CenturyLink to move its utility lines out of the way on Concord Road.

Johnstown Village Manager Jim Lenner said CenturyLink — a company that provides internet, telephone and TV services — was notified about the Concord Road construction in February, but still has not yet moved the necessary poles, underground lines and cables.

Johnstown Village Manager Jim Lenner, said village officials don’t know when the utility lines will be moved and that this is holding up the entire project.

“It could be two weeks, four weeks or even longer before they move those utilities out of the way,” Lenner said at the Johnstown Village Council meeting Monday, July 7.

Joanette Romero, CenturyLink’s Market Development Manager for Ohio, Indiana and Michigan, said CenturyLink is planning on moving its utility lines next week.

“CenturyLink is committed to working as quickly as possible and moving our utility lines in a timely fashion,” Romero said.

She also said she was informed Columbia Gas was planning to move its lines Monday, July 13 andAEP is moving its lines next week.

Romero said CenturyLink has the most utility lines to move and she emphasized the company is not behind schedule.

Johnstown Service Director Jack Liggett said the utility lines need to be moved because the $620,000 project includes roadway reconstruction, new storm sewer and water lines, sidewalk installation and a new ditch configuration on Concord Road.

Without CenturyLink’s lines moved, other contractors are not able complete the necessary work and other utilities such as AEP are also waiting on CenturyLink, village officials said.

Columbia Gas has been working to move its utility lines on Concord Road, Lenner said.

Lenner and Liggett both said they have had daily conversations with Layton, the contractor company doing the road work, and with CenturyLink.

“We’re committed to this project,” Liggett said.

“The road has already been (excavated),” Liggett said. “Layton has been great to work with and is doing everything they are able to until CenturyLink moves their lines.”

When council members heard about the delay, they expressed displeasure.

“If they say it’ll be two weeks before they start in two weeks, on a two-week project, then that will push us back into September,” Councilman Bob Orsini said.

“That’s unacceptable.”

Orsini said with the delay, the project risks going over budget and extending into the winter.

“Citizens are inconvenienced by the detour and the village has spent money on the project so it’s just not right that the project be delayed,” Orsini said.

Lenner told council he will ask the village law director what legal action might be an option.

Liggett said the recent rain is also slowing the project.

Other matters

Council was planning a vote on an ordinance to amend the wage and salary structure of the village, but the vote was tabled for the next meeting, after council members requested clarification from the law director.

During public comment, a citizen pointed out the ordinance allowed the village manager and department heads to approve changes to wages or salaries.

Councilmen Orsini and Bill Van Gundy said they want to be made aware when such changes are going to be made.

Councilwoman Carol Van Deest, however, said she did not see a problem with how the ordinance was drafted and voted against the motion to table the vote until the July 21 meeting.
The motion passed 6-1.

It was also pointed out that the position of unlicensed Utility Laborer needed to be added to the wage structure scale.