Construction at the site of a new Wal-Mart Supercenter in northwest Lawrence soon could be going around the clock.
Seal-O-Matic Paving Co. Inc. plans to extend its work day to include 5 p.m. to 5 a.m., excluding Sundays, the contractor said in a mailing to nearby property owners. Plans call for the new schedule to begin today and extend to Nov. 21.
"Due to weather-related circumstances, we will be expediting the installation of the asphalt paving construction," the company said, cautioning that inclement weather could force changes to the schedule. "During this process all noise levels will be kept to a minimum."
Seal-O-Matic, of Riverside, Mo., is working on the new supercenter's expansive parking lot at the northwest corner of Sixth Street and Wakarusa Drive. The contractor's written notification of nearby residents came at the request of city officials.
Scott McCullough, the city's director of planning and development services, noted that contractors approached his department early on about the potential for operating beyond normal working hours. Seal-O-Matic wants to get the parking lot installed before asphalt plants close for the winter.
After determining that overnight work would not violate city code, McCullough said, his department requested that Seal-O-Matic send out information about its accelerated schedule as a courtesy.
"Obviously, with this level of project - the size, the scope - we're glad they've sent the notice," McCullough said. "We're glad they can get the job heading toward completion."
Also beneficial, he said, at least so far: "We haven't heard any noise complaints during the day, when they're out there. We don't anticipate any at night."
Construction of the new 100,000-square-foot supercenter started last summer, and Wal-Mart has anticipated the store's opening to come in late spring or early summer 2009. Wal-Mart's building permit calls for construction valued at $9.5 million.
The project started after being tied up in court battles for about five years.
Wal-Mart officials had announced in August 2002 that they would build a 200,000-square-foot supercenter at the northwest corner of Sixth and Wakarusa, and neighbors quickly lined up to oppose the project as being too big for the intersection, which they argued would not be able to handle the anticipated traffic.
Lawrence city commissioners, at the time, sided with neighbors, and developers found themselves taking the city to court. Then, in April 2007, city residents voted - within days of the scheduled start of the trial - to change the majority on the Lawrence city commission, and settlement talks began.
Soon, the two sides had settled on the smaller supercenter, one that Wal-Mart plans to operate with general merchandise, grocery items and many other offerings already available at Wal-Mart's other supercenter across town.
The existing supercenter, which covers about 200,000 square feet, is at 3300 Iowa St.