A day after Portland announced that part of High Street would be closed for several days because of a construction snag at the site of a $7.2 million project at Congress Square, a city official clarified, saying “periodic closures … may take place” on the busy downtown road.

High Street was open to traffic on Friday night and Saturday.

When asked, city spokeswoman Jessica Grondin said Saturday that there would be “periodic closures that may take place,” and that motorists are advised to seek alternative routes when possible. The city will provide an update when available, she said. Grondin did not say why one lane of the street was open.

The city and the construction company, Gordon Contracting, are in the midst of a dispute over delays on the project at one of Portland’s busiest intersections. The delays have frustrated some nearby business owners.

The first phase of the project, a $2.6 million redesign of the intersection, started last spring but ran into problems related to underground utility lines, which set the project back several weeks.

City officials have said the problem was resolved in July, but that Gordon Contracting had not returned to complete work other than having a representative oversee work by sub-contractors.


Acting Director of Public Works Mike Murray said the city wants workers to return as soon as possible, and that the city is also considering declaring a contractor default on the project.

On Saturday, the president of Gordon Contracting, Brian Howard, said his company is waiting for a redesign of the traffic signal foundations. His company was on site this week to continue working, Howard said in an email, however there was “no real subsurface utility investigation performed by the city engineering firm, so in every location we are finding unknown utilities that need to be moved,” which meant changes to the scope of the work, including more time and costs.

If the city had done more design work before the bidding process, Howard said, that “could have eliminated 100 percent of these issues.”

The company requested in June that the city’s legal department become involved when negotiations over changing site conditions stalled, Howard said.

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