Cromwell Road in Festus has been closed since mid-July for a culvert replacement project.

Cromwell Road in Festus has been closed since mid-July for a culvert replacement project.

The city of Festus fired a contractor who had been hired to demolish an old culvert and put in a new one at Cromwell Road near Fifth Street, City Administrator Greg Camp said.

He said the contractor was fired Monday (Sept. 14) due to unfinished road repairs that have kept a portion of Cromwell closed since mid-July.

While the new culvert has been installed, the road is in disrepair and remained closed as of today (Sept. 16).

“It (the project) should have been finished by the end of August, beginning of September,” Camp said. “I think we’ve been more than patient.”

Camp said the contractor, Chris Copeland of St. Louis, had been warned the week before that the project needed to be wrapped up because the road closure was continuing to inconvenience drivers.

“He was unresponsive to (the city’s) messages,” Camp said. “As of (Sept. 9), I told him he had until 9 a.m. (Monday) to finish. He called at 7 a.m. and said he could not get it done.”

Copeland did not respond to the Leader’s attempts to reach him for comment.

The city purchased a box culvert for $9,584 from McCann Concrete Products in Dorsey, Ill., and hired Copeland – the low bidder at $32,000 – to remove the old culvert and install the new one.

Camp said Copeland started working on the project in the middle of July and finished part of the work but failed to repair the road according to the timeline in the contract.

“We did see some progress initially,” Camp said. “It was just a culvert replacement project. They had to tear out the old culvert and install the new one. He took out the old one and put the new one in. He got all the way up to, basically, repairing the street and couldn’t get it done.”

Camp said Monday that either city employees will complete the road repairs or another company will be hired to finish them, but he intends for Cromwell to be reopened by the end of this week.

“I feel the residents have been inconvenienced long enough,” Camp said.

Crews were working on the project today.

Camp said Copeland will not be paid the full $32,000 since he did not complete the work.

However, the amount he will be paid and any potential monetary penalties for not completing the job on time will be determined later, Camp said.

During Monday night’s City Council meeting, several council members said they had received complaints about how long Cromwell has been closed.