Charlotte County and Florida Department of Transportation are looking for a middle ground on when to start $7.3 million worth of reconstruction along a 3-mile stretch of U.S. 41.

County commissioners earlier this month unanimously approved spending $3.6 million to replace 12,500 feet of 1960s-era asbestos-cement water pipes under sidewalks. The project is located on the southbound side of U.S. 41 from just north of State Road 776 to just south of Midway Boulevard. They will also be replacing 300 feet of old sewer pipes.

The idea was to coordinate the county’s project with a state project to repair sidewalks and drainage on the same stretch. That way, the same stretch of concrete and roadside would not be torn up twice. The state has scheduled their $3.7 million project to begin at the end of August, so Charlotte County scheduled theirs to begin in May.

But Charlotte County awarded the contract to the same contractor as the state, Wright Construction Group, which was the lowest of four bidders for the county. Wright wants to do all the work at the same time, said Utilities Public Relations Manager Caroline Wannall.

At a conference Thursday, the Charlotte County Utilities staff began discussions with the contractor on when to start the project, Wannall said. The conclusion was that the Wright will talk to FDOT about whether it can move up the date of its project to coincide better with Charlotte County’s.

For the state project, work will include milling and resurfacing the road, base work, drainage improvements, and improvements to guardrail work, signs, markings, traffic signals, lighting and pedestrian bridges over Sunset Star and Morning Star waterways.

For the county, the cost is paid by water and sewer ratepayers rather than property taxes.

The old water pipes will be replaced with 12-inch polyvinyl chloride pipes.

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