The city expects to meet its Nov. 15 target of opening one lane of traffic on South Limestone, but council members questioned Tuesday whether to speed up the project's eventual completion.
"It is still going to be a road under construction," director of public works Mike Webb told the council of the Nov. 15 lane opening. But a gap will be opened in the construction barrier at Avenue of Champions, or what becomes Euclid Avenue, for cars to pass.
"We want to provide the best access we can to the businesses," he said.
After the lane opens, Kentucky Utilities still has months of work burying utility lines.
Webb and Harry L. Burchett, vice president of construction firm ATS Construction, appeared before the council to answer questions raised at last week's work session. Council members wanted to know if the work overhauling the corridor could be sped up, and if so, what would be the increased cost.
KU agreed to put on two shifts to expedite its work, Webb said, and could reduce the electrical component of the project by 44 days, finishing on Feb. 23 instead of March 31. The increase in cost would be $850,000.
The utility company's current contract is for $1.25 million.
Vice Mayor Jim Gray did some quick math. "To shave 44 days off the schedule, they are asking for $850,000? A 70 percent premium?" he queried.
Webb said utility companies "are not allowed to make a profit." If KU's work turned out to be less costly than the estimate, "In the end, they would open their books for us to see" and if there was a profit, the city would get a refund.
Council members did not discuss whether to spend the extra money for KU.
But even if money is spent to speed up KU's work, Burchett said he could not guarantee that the work of ATS could be done any faster because weather in March and the early part of April is so unpredictable.
Already the project is 30 days ahead of schedule, he said.
In coming up with a bid for the $17 million project, Burchett said he planned for KU to work through March. "I have contractural obligations to get done by July 1." He said he was confident that goal could be reached.
Asked by several council members if his crews could work on Sundays, Burchett said he would not do that. His employees, which number 15 to 40 given the work, already are on site six days a week with nine to 12 hours a shift. He said they have wives, children, soccer games and church, and it wasn't fair to make them work seven days a week.
"They don't have to work on Sundays to get the job done by the schedule that I provided to the city," Burchett said.