Completion Date Delayed for Lynchburg's Fifth St. Construction

Lynchburg, VA - They say good things come to those who wait. But the businesses along Fifth Street in Lynchburg say they've waited long enough.

Construction crews working on phase two of the Fifth Street project are pushing its completion date back, yet again.

The initial completion date was scheduled for May, now officials are saying the end of August.

It's gotten so bad for one business on Fifth they say they're looking at legal options to recoup thousands in lost revenue.

"I lose business because nobody wants to book a wedding when it's going through a war zone to get here" said the Owner of the James River Conference Center, Debby Ruffin.

And for 18 months, that warzone has been a business bull-dozer.

When Fifth Street construction began, contractors promised Ruffin completion by May.

"Then we got a June date which you know, we can deal with that, and then we got a July date and now we have an August 28th date" she said.

She booked events, thinking street work would be done. Spring and summer weddings parties now have to pull the plug.

"We are also looking at some other ways we can recover some of the losses we've incurred because of the project. And there's some hope out there, we've talked to several legal departments throughout the state" said Ruffin.

"This major change order that we just implemented pushed it back by 60 days" said Scott Perkins, the city's Utilities Engineer for the project.

He says delays and set backs are inevitable, "It's almost like guesswork. The contractor has got to be very careful with what he's dealing with it's very old pipe," pipe dating back to the 1800's.

Perkins though has some encouragement for bothered business owners.

"We're within three to four months away from being able to finish this stage of the project, and what we'll end up with is a very nice brand new sidewalks, brick crosswalks, fresh pavement on the streets, it will not look anything like what you see currently today" he said.

"Given the track record and the history, I'm not optimistic it'll be finished by October" said Ruffin.

Ruffin said she's seen an 80% drop in her revenue since construction began.

Project engineers feel pretty confident though, that August 28th finish date will be reached. After that though, phase three of the project begins on the northern portion of Fifth Street. The time table for that has not been finalized.

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