A road project that’s expected to reduce congestion at the Interstate 75 and State Road 56 is running behind schedule, and Pasco County commissioners aren’t happy.
Pasco County Commission Chairman Mike Moore raised the issue during the board’s Oct. 20 meeting — citing the apparent lack of workers on the project.
“I drive it daily. My wife drives it daily. My oldest daughter probably drives it three to four times a week,” he said.
“Yesterday, when I drove through there, I took a few photos. I saw one truck. I don’t know what he was doing, I’m not a contractor. And, I saw two guys standing on the side, down below.
“On a project of that magnitude, those are the only people I saw working on it Monday — a sunny Monday.
“That was about 1:15, 1:30 (in the afternoon), when I drove through there. Those were the only people working on that project when I drove by there.
“That’s embarrassing,” Moore said.
“I know Commissioner (Kathryn) Starkey and I received a letter from a group of businesses over on the west side of the interchange, everywhere from the outlet mall to across the street to Sierra’s properties (Cypress Creek Town Center), too,” Moore said.
“It’s frustrating to all of our constituents here. It’s frustrating to the business owners,” he said.
It’s particularly irritating given the fact that the county worked with local state legislators to get the project moved, and now it’s behind schedule, Moore said.
“Now, we’re going into 2021. This was supposed to be done in the summer of ‘21, and be finished and completed. Unfortunately, they’re delayed.
“We have absolutely zero control, and when I say zero, we have zero control over these contractors for that project because that is a DOT project,” the commission chairman added.
Moore said he expressed the county’s displeasure to David Gwynn, secretary for District 7 of the Florida Department of Transportation.
Gwynn responded with an email outlining what’s happened so far in the project, and the DOT’s actions.
The project was started in early 2019 with an original schedule of 800 days, which would result in a finish date of April 2021, Gwynne’s email notes.
That schedule did not account for rain and holiday allowances or other factors outside the contractors control, the email adds.
To date, the contractor has been granted:
- 99 days for weather
- 34 days of holiday time
- 30 days for unforeseen conditions
As a result, 163 days will be added to the contract, bringing the new end date to Aug. 26, 2021, the email notes.
“The department has discussed its concern with the contractor, DAB Constructors, as a result the contractor has gone to a 6-day work week to mitigate the schedule, and has agreed to focus their resources on completing existing work,” the email says.
The DOT also is looking for opportunities to move the job forward, the email notes, including:
- Approving the use of alternate fill materials less sensitive to water, to accelerate work in low lying areas
- Examining ways to combine traffic phases to shorten the overall duration of the project
- Utilizing alternate road base options to accelerate new roadway construction
- Examining ways to reconfigure walls on the project to shorten construction duration
Gwynn’s email says that “should the contractor not meet the contract end date, liquidated damages, of $9,837 a day, will be assessed for every day that the contractor is late in completing the project.”
The email goes on to say that the department sent a letter of concern to the contractor on March 23, and continues to review the contractor’s progress.
Finally, Gwynn said, “Please be assured that we are doing everything we can to hold the contractor accountable and accelerate the schedule where possible.”
Starkey said “I think DOT is doing as much as it can, to push it along,” but, she would like to see changes in the way contracts are awarded, to put a higher value on a company’s performance.
Moore said he’s happy to see what the DOT is doing, but isn’t satisfied with the results.
“The pressure needs to stay on,” Moore said.
“Basically, what needs to happen, is they need to hold their feet to the fire,” Moore said.
Commissioner Jack Mariano agreed: “Keep the pressure on.”
Published October 28, 2020