Watertown’s streetscape work stops due to concrete shortage

Published: Jul. 27, 2023 at 5:48 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - Work on Washington Street in the city of Watertown has hit a wall - a concrete wall - as a short supply of concrete is causing delays in the downtown streetscape project.

Summer construction can be seen all throughout the city of Watertown. However, work has stopped on Washington Street. One reason: a lack of materials, specifically concrete.

“The one that’s been impacted the most on concrete is, of course, the downtown streetscape project,” said Watertown City Manager Ken Mix.

He says there are factors affecting the city’s ability to get concrete for the project.

“We can only get concrete on certain days. My understanding, I’ve been told by several people is that Fort Drum is using a lot of concrete,” he said.

Along with an increased usage of concrete from Fort Drum, Mix says weather is also an issue. The city was unable to pour the last batch it put in for as it was raining the day of delivery.

Mark Thompson, vice president of Jefferson Concrete Corporation, tells us an increased demand for concrete to complete summer construction projects can contribute to the short supply.

“I’ve heard contractors tell me I can’t get concrete for 3 weeks for a pour. I can’t get concrete for 4 weeks, I’ve heard in some cases. It’s a very real problem,” said Thompson.

On top of the shortage, there’s a lack of drivers to deliver the materials to the job sites.

“I know that they are ready mix producers in this region that can not deliver concrete because they do not have the personnel to sit in the seats of their truck to deliver their product,” said Thompson.

Mix says the streetscape project should still be completed on time as the city is scheduled for three shipments of concrete - the first on August 3.

“Every little bit delays things, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the projects won’t be done on time,” said Mix.

Work in front of the Key Bank building is also paused as a final design decision involving parking needs to be discussed and approved at the August 7 city council meeting.