Spurred by a complaint from the Nokomis Area Civic Association, the Florida Department of Transportation conducted an audit of a controversial U.S. 41 road construction project in Nokomis and found “several significant issues that delayed the project and increased the cost.”
Hubbard Construction was awarded the project to widen about 2.5 miles of U.S. 41, from State Road 681 to U.S. 41 Business, and signed a contract with FDOT in August 2005.
Construction on the $32 million project began in October 2005 and was scheduled to be completed in August 2007.
But Hubbard ran into problems almost immediately.
According to the audit, Hubbard did not commit resources to the project for approximately 100 days.
Hubbard told FDOT that its resources were committed to other projects.
About 15% of the contract time had already expired before any work began. The utilities were not accurately identified in the plans, “resulting in significant delays and additional project costs.”
Although FDOT added an additional 348 days to the contract and $3 million, Hubbard needed 222 more days beyond that to complete the project, which was in February.
In the audit, FDOT detailed the problems at Dona Bay and Shackett Creek bridges, and among the errors Hubbard made were misplacing a test bridge pile due to a survey error; damaging a bridge beam; damaging a bridge piling; mounting signal heads too low, which resulted in redesign and additional costs; and improperly constructing pile-cap extensions that did not allow for utility attachments.
But the contractor did run into unforeseen conditions that delayed the project. For example, concrete underneath the bridges that was found once construction began added 54 days to the project.
Hubbard was fined $2.6 million for its delays, and FDOT recommended several steps to make sure future projects don’t have similar problems.
NACA’s intent in requesting an audit on the project is to make sure future road projects in Sarasota County don’t affect communities the way this one affected Nokomis.
“The project took twice as long as expected,” said NACA President John Ask. “It caused a lot of heartache for the community and hurt a lot of businesses.”
PROJECT UP CLOSE
Start date: October 2005
Expected completion date: August 2007
Actual completion date: February 2009
Days FDOT added to project: 348
Days contractor was late: 222
Initial contract cost: $32 million
Amount FDOT added to contract: $3 million
Contractor’s fine for being late: $2.6 million