Leach/Kenwood Road nears completion after delays
Paving has started at the turnoff from Highway 412 in Leach onto the Leach/Kenwood Road, also known as N4540 Road. Paving started in May. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Nearly four miles onto the Leach/Kenwood road from Leach, only one lane is re-paved. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
In the foreground is unpaved highway leading to the other end of an 11.84-mile stretch of road in Kenwood. The road connects the Leach and Kenwood communities in Delaware County. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
LEACH – A Cherokee Nation Roads Program project on Leach/Kenwood Road, also known as N4540 Road, is nearing completion, but residents and frequent users of the 11.84-mile stretch are asking why work on it has taken so long.
The road connects the Leach and Kenwood communities in Delaware County. According to a 2016 contract between the contractor and CN, construction was estimated to take 180 days.
According to a previous Cherokee Phoenix article, CN Roads Program Director Michael Lynn said the project was expected to be finished in early spring of this year. Construction included replacing drainage structures, building new box bridge structures and asphalt overlay.
The estimated cost of the project was $3.9 million with Glover & Associates of Muskogee listed as the contractor.
CN citizen Darrell Dry reached out to CN officials via email in November with concerns about the road’s condition after construction began.
In the email, Dry stated that he’s a Leach-area resident who uses the road to get to his job at Wickliffe School in Mayes County. He stated there were drop-offs where pavement was torn from the ground and gaps where the bridges meet the road.
“The road between Leach and Kenwood is nearly impassable now. We only see construction workers on the road maybe one day every two weeks and when they are there, they don’t do anything,” Dry stated in an email after construction began. “I feel sorry for the bus drivers who have to drive on that road every day. If someone who isn’t familiar with the road drives on it, they will have serious damage to their vehicle from hitting the drop-offs.”
In response to Dry, Lynn states in an email that he was aware the project had been in process for a “long time now” and that he was “anxious” to get it completed. He also sent Dry a schedule of dates for January of when certain portions of the road would begin and construction would be completed.
In a Dec. 12 email to Dry, Lynn stated that construction would be completed at an earlier date than he gave the Cherokee Phoenix in a previous article. He also stated in the email that paving patch areas would begin on Jan. 9 followed by mainline paving on Jan. 12. Remaining items such as inserting guardrails, traffic stripes and replacing aluminum signs would follow.
“I know this project has drug out for a long time and is several months behind schedule, and we hope to have it fully completed by mid-February 2018,” Lynn stated in the email.
Tribal Councilor Harley Buzzard said in June that paving had begun where parts of the road were not yet paved and those portions should be completed within a two-week time span.
“They started the asphalt paving and should be done in about two weeks. The paving should be done then, and then after they’ll have some striping of the road and some guardrails and stuff like that. But the major portion of the asphalt should be done. Hopefully the people will at least have a better road to drive on because it was rough,” Buzzard said.
Dry, who continues to use the road, said paving actually began in late May and with only a few miles paved starting on the Leach side.
“Paving started about a month ago. They paved about two or three miles. Then they left. There hasn’t been any work done on it in three weeks,” he said. “To me, you do your job until it’s finished and then you go on to your next one.”
He said he believes the road has now been worked on for about a year to a year and a half.
“It’s passable now anyway. It’s not as bad as it was, but it would be nice to have it finished,” Dry said.
The Cherokee Phoenix attempted to reach the Roads Program and Glover & Associates for comment but was unsuccessful.