If you thought you heard the faint sound of cheering carried on the north wind Wednesday, it might not have been your imagination.
It might have been the sound of jubilation emanating from League City over the completion of a major and very long-running project to improve Calder Road and the water and sewer systems running under it.
The project, which city officials note was actually four projects, began in August 2014, involved four contractors, cost more than $24 million and was at times a vexation upon residents and city officials alike.
Most road projects cause headaches for people who have to navigate them, but few, short of freeway reconstruction, have caused as much annoyance for as long as this one had.
Gary Lee, a lawyer who lives in the 2500 block of Calder Road, summed up the general tenor of things in an article published in May last year.
“I’m not in the construction business, but I’m not a complete moron,” Lee said. “Why is this taking months and months?”
Just for perspective, that quote was first published in May 2018, nine months before the project was done, and the road construction part of the project already had been underway since January 2017.
City officials, who were at the mercy of contractors and other factors even less in their control, acknowledged the project hadn’t moved swiftly.
“We have concerns with how long it’s taken,” City Manager John Baumgartner said. “The schedule is embarrassing and we are going to persevere and we are going to get it completed.”
“Trust me, if I lived there, I’d be as steamed as they were,” Mayor Pat Hallisey said. “We are going to get it done. Residents can rest assured of that. I know there have been problems out there, but that’s going to be an important road in the future.”
Officials also kept a sense of humor about the situation. During a ceremony Wednesday marking the project’s completion, they passed out T-shirts bearing the words “I survived Calder Road Construction.”
Whether those who survived the construction will think the improvements were worth the long suffering remains to be seen, but there’s a sure bet — everybody’s bound to be glad it’s over.
• Michael A. Smith