TxDOT says work will begin Monday to create a safe path for students who walk to and from Guyer High School in Denton. Several students and their parents have complained, saying the walk through a now-dormant construction zone is unsafe.
Presently, there is no sidewalk alongside a section of Teasley Lane near Guyer. Construction began in 2017 on a project to widen the busy road. But in January, TxDOT decided that the company which won the $35 million dollar contract, Munilla Construction Management, failed to meet TxDOT's construction schedule, the MCM was found in default.
But the stretch of Teasley is still a construction zone -- albeit a dormant one. Students walking to and from school have to walk through it. They encounter piles of dirt blocking their path -- meaning in some places they must walk right next to the busy, narrow road.
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Some students worry for their safety.
"It's kind of inconvenient around construction areas," said Alejandro Moran, a junior. "To walk around it, you have to get really close to the road which can be kind of dangerous."
"There's a lot of people that walk on the edge here, right next to these cars," said Mason Collins, a junior. "It's really scary."
The contractor, MCM, recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, and is disputing TxDOT's claims, referring to the decision as a "wrongful default." MCM says it asked TxDOT for permission to "button up" the construction area, and remove potential hazards, but claims the request was denied.
The default ruling has delayed the project, which was scheduled to be completed in 2020. TxDOT says the project bond holder must find a new contractor to resume construction, which the agency hopes will happen by early summer.
"We're working with TxDOT to get as much as we can straightened out," said Daniel Kremer, the city of Denton's deputy director of operations. The city has received "numerous" complaints regarding pedestrian safety around the site.
"The biggest thing is the safety," said Kremer. "We want to make sure all the students are safe, and give them a safe path to walk on."
On Friday, the city received assurances from TxDOT that a safe path for the students will be created on the west side of Teasley Lane. Construction of the path will begin Monday, weather-permitting.
For Moran and other students who walk, the changes can't come soon enough.
"I just have to be careful," said Moran. "Make sure my eyes are on the road going through that part."