CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- For residents of Sugar Creek Drive and its side hollows, 2012 has been a year to forget -- and maybe curse. Dust when it's dry, mud when it's wet, frustrating delays, and potholes.
"I sympathize," said Mayor Danny Jones. "If this was going on where I live I wouldn't be happy. But we've got to do this."
Officials at the Charleston Sanitary Board say the hassles are simply the price of modernizing the sewer system. The good news is the job of moving sewer lines out of Kanawha Two-Mile creek is nearly complete.
"I think they'll be substantially wrapped up by Thanksgiving," said Larry Roller, general manager of the sanitary board. "They may return next spring."
Contractors with J.F. Allen Co., who have torn up Sugar Creek Drive to install new sewer lines beneath the road, are waiting to finish the installation before they lay down a final coat of asphalt, Roller said.
That makes it tough on drivers who have to dodge the potholes on a road barely two lanes wide, or get stuck behind the contractors.
"They're used to flying down the hollow," Roller said. "Now they have to stop and wait. The contractors are required to maintain traffic, but they're allowed to interrupt traffic for up to 15 minutes. It probably runs longer sometimes."
And unlike Chandler Drive, also part of the Kanawha Two-Mile project, Sugar Creek is a dead-end road.
"The difference on Chandler Drive, there's two ways in and out. You don't have that luxury on Sugar Creek."
City Councilman Bill Kirk, who lives just off Sugar Creek, complained to city officials about the inconvenience last summer.
Roller said there's not a lot he can do. He has engineers on the job, making sure J.F. Allen follows its contract. When potholes get big, like last week after heavy weekend rain, the company fills them with gravel.
"I've talked to Greg Hadjis, the president, a number of times about the project. He has a vice president who keep me advised from time to time about issues."
J.F. Allen is one of three contractors the sanitary board hired for the massive Kanawha Two-Mile project. The agency has previously done smaller projects, like on lower Porter Road and Twilight Drive, and replaced pumping stations under a consent agreement with state and federal regulators to fix its outdated sewage collection system.
"This is an element of our long-term contract plan filed with the DEP in 2005," Roller said. "This is the first major step in that plan, a $250 process."