Residents near Parsons Avenue improvement project have mixed feelings about construction

Margie Treanor lives on Merced Avenue, close to Parsons Avenue, one of the two big construction projects under way in the city.

She's not a fan of the project nearest her and all the digging and grading that go with it.

"Dirt just flies," Treanor said. "The city doesn't sweep Merced Avenue because of that. When the buses come off Parsons, the dust and dirt goes everywhere."

Billed as one of the roughest streets in the city by officials, the almost $3 million Parsons Avenue improvement project began construction in September 2010 and was expected to be completed in June.

But bad weather set back the project by a few months, city officials said. Funded by a combination of local and bond funds, the project is 80 percent complete. It will be finished next month.

The construction and improvements on Parsons Avenue extend from Childs Avenue to Highway 140. Improvements were needed because the street surface had broken down, Daryl Jordan, city engineer, said.

In response to gripes from Treanor and other residents, Jordan said, the contractor should have a sweeper on site to clear away the dirt and dust.

That doesn't satisfy some residents.

At the end of June, "they (the city) were doing nothing and you wouldn't see anybody out there. They told us this project was going to be finished by the end of June. It went way over by two months," said Treanor.

Norma Flores, who has lived at her house on Merced Avenue for 18 years, said the construction was a "mess" and seemed as if it had been going on forever.

Jordan explained that spring rain was partially responsible for the mess. The soil at the project site is clay, he said, so when rail fell the result was a slippery and sloppy work site.

Among the items that have been completed are curbs, gutters and sidewalks, he said. Later this week, the street will be paved and prepared for the asphalt.

"The goal is to get asphalt on and (make the street) drivable before school starts next week," Jordan said.

The city still has striping and painting lane lines on the road left to do. And within the next two to three weeks, it will put pedestrian crosswalk warning lights in the pavement.

Some residents near the project prefer to see the glass as half-full.

Josephine Elie, who lives on Merced Avenue, said she saw the construction as a "positive," adding that there would be "wider spaces and more lights on the street." She said the work being done on the street didn't bother her because she was at work all day.

Down the street, Joanne Nijjer said the construction was wonderful because it would result in a new road and bring in more business.

Reporter Ameera Butt can be reached at (209) 385-2477 or abutt@mercedsun-star.com.