Mandeville business owners worry about 190 road delays

Mandeville, La. - One of the most anticipated construction projects in Mandeville has hit a road block. Business owners are angry over a shipment of faulty materials, and they say it's hurting their bottom line.

For 20 years, Mandeville has waited.

"It's been frustrating for my customer base," said Wally Rosenblum with H. W. Rosenblum clothing.

In May, the state kicked off an $11.3 million construction project to widen Highway 190 through the heart of Mandeville's main business district, but some say there have been more stops than starts.

"It wasn't 30 days in they started having delays," said Mark Benfatti, with N'tini's restaurant.

Problem one: massive concrete drainage culverts were found to be faulty on their arrival. Some had already been installed.

"They failed, so they removed them from the vendor list," said Rick Danielson, with the Mandeville City Council.

Now the state transportation department says a new vendor is building new culverts, a process that will take at least three weeks. The bad ones will have to be removed.

Then there was a problem with century-old oak trees in the path of the new wider road.

"I'm just curious how nobody knew where that tree was in the design phase," Benfatti said.

Now that part of the highway near St Ann Street is being re-designed in order to save the tree.

Mandeville business owners were expecting some business interruption due to this much anticipated project, but they say any delays over the original 300-day schedule is going to be extremely problematic.

"It's been very expensive for me, and I have a long way to go," said Benfatti.

While the main road work is held up, crews were busy working on a sidewalk near Asbury Drive and the new four-lane bridge over Bayou Chinchuba.

Business owners are now organizing a newsletter to keep some 120 merchants apprised of progress.

But many want the state to do more.

"Any kind of nightwork would be a benefit to the businesses in the area," said Delery.

And they're hoping for a rapid delivery of new culverts.

"I think it needs somebody putting their foot on the accelerator so to speak," said Rosenblum.

Many Mandeville business owners say their business is down 20-30 percent, and they would like some type of compensation. But the state says it can't provide any.