MLGW says street repaved by city crews before their utility work was complete

City admits to paving mistake in Cooper Young

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - On Tuesday the city’s public works director said he’s trying to get to the bottom of how a freshly-paved street in midtown Memphis was dug up hours later by MLGW crews. He said it shouldn’t have happened that way.

“Obviously it’s an unfortunate and difficult situation, frustrating for me, because obviously we went through the effort of paving a street and then to have a utility cut made,” said Robert Knecht, Public Works director for the City of Memphis.

WMC Action News 5 first exposed the incident Monday night after getting calls from midtown residents who were left scratching their heads.

Residents on Philadelphia Street in Cooper Young were relieved Monday that weeks of work in their neighborhood on a federally-mandated sewer project was complete. But they told us they were stunned to find that the fresh pavement was being drilled into by MLGW crews hours after it was laid.

"What did you think about that? " WMC asked resident Jerry Wafford.

“Stupidity,” he replied with a laugh.

Knecht indicated Tuesday the situation was unacceptable and said he was still gathering information. He said this had happened before in situations where emergency repairs were needed.

“There should be proper coordination with all of our utility partners,” he said.

Meantime, Tuesday afternoon MLGW continued its work at the site. A spokesperson for the utility sent WMC Action News 5 a message around 3 p.m. updating the situation.

“The pavement was laid before our work and the sewer work was completed,” it read. “Our work is now complete.”

“If it was a planning situation, then that’s something we need to correct,” said Knecht.

Late Tuesday evening, Dan Springer with the City of Memphis released the following statement:

"City of Memphis, Public Works has investigated the situation at Philadelphia where MLGW cut a recently resurfaced street. This initially started when Public Works SARP10 staff identified that a utility conflict was discovered in the early stages of the sewer line replacement work. The City contractor, responsible for the sewer line replacement, contacted MLGW the first week of June and requested relocation of a water line that interfered with the sewer line replacement. Both the City’s contractor and MLGW personnel informed the paving sub-contractor, that they were to not pave this area until all utility work was completed. However, it was determined that this information was not communicated to the paving sub contactor and they resurfaced the street prematurely. Now that the water line has been re-located, the City contractor will finish replacement of the last section of sewer pipe and the paving sub-contractor will repave the area. The repaving work will be completed at no additional cost to the City.”

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