EARLY — Prater Equipment is trying to solve lingering problems on two Early streets the company rebuilt as part of a $2.4 million street project.

The city and company, however, point to each other as being responsible for paying for the extra work to make things right on Longhorn Drive and Old Comanche Road. Asphalt has been “bleeding” through the top rock layer and being ripped up by traffic, city officials have said.

The city believes the problem stems from defective materials or workmanship and says the company is bound by warranty to solve the problem at the company’s expense, Early City Administrator Ken Thomas said.

The Comanche-based company has put down extra rock, but the company isn’t at fault and will bill the city for the extra work, company Vice President Mark Pirkle said. He said if the city refuses to pay, a third-party arbitrator will decide the issue.

Pirkle said his company’s materials and workmanship are fine, and said the city hasn’t brought any evidence to the contrary. He said he has asked the city “a dozen times” to bring proof the company is at fault.

In an earlier interview, Pirkle said nobody knew what was causing the asphalt to bleed.

“We’re going to come and we’re going to fix these areas,” Pirkle said Friday. “When we get through putting rock on (the streets), we’re going to bill the city.

“They just want it fixed and they don’t know what to do about it. Everybody starts pointing fingers. … We’re going to bill the city and expect to be paid unless (the city) can prove it’s our fault.”

Thomas disagreed. “When you drive down a street and both courses of rock and asphalt stick to your tires and rips gaping holes in the pavement, you have a problem — or somebody has a problem,” he said. “I don’t need any more proof.”

Thomas said Prater has put down extra rock on Longhorn, but not on Old Comanche. Pirkle said his company will put down more rock on Old Comanche when hot weather returns, because hot weather creates optimum conditions.

He said both streets are actually in good condition now that the weather is cool and wet, because the asphalt only bleeds in hot weather.

“The weather has been on both our sides,” Thomas said. “As long as it’s wet and cool, the streets are just fine. We have no bleeding. What (repair) work Prate has done so far, we don’t know how it will hold up … we won’t know until it gets hot.”

Early City Council members took up the matter at their June 10 meeting, discussing the matter with City Attorney Perry Sims and the city’s engineer, Ken Martin of Abilene-based Jacobs and Martin.

Council members noted then that the company is bound by a year-long warranty that expires Feb. 28, 2008, to repair defective work, and hinted at possible legal action.

The council that night authorized Thomas to send a certified letter to the company stating the two streets are not satisfactory and requesting that the company repair the problems.

Martin told council members then that didn’t know if it was defective workmanship or defective materials, but said “it is defective product.”

In December 2005, Early council members awarded a $1.9 million contract to Prater, the sole bidder, for the street project. Surveying, engineering and contingencies put the total cost at about $2.4, and the city issued bonds to pay for the project.

Work included paving, seal coating, drainage and curb and gutter work on numerous city streets as part of the city’s Master Plan.

Work on all but Old Comanche and Longhorn has been satisfactory, city officials said.

Thomas said streets have two layers of asphalt and rock, and rock is the top layer. On Old Comanche and Longhorn, Thomas and Martin said, it appears not enough rock stuck to the asphalt, and that has allowed the asphalt to bleed through.