Frustrating street work on a key local transit route is nearing the end in a $5 million marriage of bus service and the Peninsula's famed jazz festival.

Construction of new shelters on Monterey-Salinas Transit's new JAZZ line — which will offer faster bus service between jazz-themed bus stops on heavily traveled miles between Sand City and Cannery Row — is expected to be wrapped up within a few weeks. The first group of stops in Monterey will open Saturday.

The $5 million state and federally funded project has been beset by technical problems and human factors that delayed completion past the original plan to finish in late September in conjunction with the 55th Monterey Jazz Festival.

"We are no more than three weeks out from completion, probably sooner than that," said Carl Sedoryk, general manager of the transit district, on Thursday.

Construction of new shelters — which has involved new sections of sidewalk and drain work along Lighthouse Avenue and the Fremont corridor in Seaside and North Monterey — left some merchants and motorists frustrated, Sedoryk acknowledged.

"MST and the city are working together to minimize disruptions," he said.

A slipup in design — a turning radius too small for a bus — that went unnoticed until field work started on a new stop at Aguajito Road and Fremont Street near Monterey Peninsula College will force about $10,000 of extra work, he said.


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"Out of 20-plus stations subject to review and out of all the calculations, there was one calculation where the turning radius ... was miscalculated," Sedoryk said. "That required us to stop work and do some rework."

Other delays occurred when digging below pavement unearthed gas and electrical lines that weren't shown on maps. A gas line on Fremont was broken the first day.

"These are the types of things that happen on any large project," Sedoryk said. "There's no gross negligence on anyone's part."

The project, which Sedoryk called "one of the largest public works street projects undertaken in local cities in decades," also was beset from the get-go in August by an untimely death and an injury traffic accident involving principals in key contractor firms.

"We have had some tragic and unusual circumstances on top of the normal construction stuff," he said. "We're rolling with it, and it's going to get done."

Work continued this week at a couple of intersections in Monterey, days after U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood came to the Peninsula for the opening of the 6.75-mile "rapid transit line."

A final part of the puzzle — the synchronization of traffic signals to enable buses and other vehicles to more quickly negotiate along the route — is expected to be done in January.

"Even if you are wedded to your car, you will see the benefits of traffic moving more quickly," Sedoryk said.

The new bus-stop shelters — decorated with graphics from the jazz festival's photo library and Herald photographers — also will let waiting passengers with smartphones listen to classic festival performances.

Seven buses on the rapid-transit route were outfitted with festival-themed graphics emblazoned on adhesive vinyl strips. The vinyl "wraps" have a five-year life expectancy and cost $7,835 apiece.

Despite the delays, Sedoryk said, "We are going to come in on budget."

Monterey City Councilwoman Libby Downey, vice chairwoman of the MST board, said she is unhappy about the disruptions on Lighthouse and Fremont and how long the project has taken.

"There were some mistakes," she said. But the new route will pay off because "the system is going to be so much faster and we'll have those places for people to get out of the rain," she said.

"I'm very supportive of the project, but I'm sorry the implementation has taken so long," she said.

MST officials gave this breakdown of major project costs: Construction contract, $3.1 million to Pavex Construction; shelters and kiosks, $900,000; benches, bike racks, trash cans and other furnishings, about $100,000.

Larry Parsons can be reached at 646-4379 or lparsons@montereyherald.com.