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Firms to Pay $21M for O’Hare Problems

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

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Walsh Construction of Chicago and six other contractors will pony up a total of $21 million to settle years of litigation with that city over problems with a terminal facade project at O'Hare International Airport.

The project, known as the O'Hare Facade and Circulation Enhancement Project (FACE), was supposed to provide more interior space and shield arriving passengers from the Windy City's harsh weather.

Walsh Construction, the general contractor on the project, has already made $26 million in repairs to defective steel and welds. The contractor will also cover $10 million of the settlement.

Seven contractors will pay a total of $21 million to the City of Chicago after cracks were found in structural steel and welds at an O'Hare construction project.

Other Settlements

In addition to the $10 million from Walsh, Jahn (formerly known as Murphy/Jahn), the project's designer, will pay $1.9 million.

Requests for comment from Walsh Construction and Jahn were not immediately returned.

The rest of the money will come from five other unidentified firms in amounts ranging from $780,000 to $4.5 million, Corporation Counsel Stephen Patton told the Chicago Sun Times.

The city also agreed on a settlement with one another company, but the company and dollar amount were not disclosed.

"These settlements, which are in addition to the cost to correct the problems, make the city whole for the out-of-pocket expenses it incurred in the past," Patton said.

Walsh "stepped up at its own expense and spent what they told us was $26 million to correct the problems," Patton told the Chicago Tribune.

Pending Claims

The city's claims against the companies had been pending since 2007 and were based on defects with structural steel and cracks in welding work performed on O'Hare's Terminals 2 and 3 and canopies extending over the roadway.

Patton said the settlement reflected a priority of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration, which is to administer and enforce city contracts to make sure the city gets what it is paying for.

City of Chicago

Walsh Construction was contracted for a $300 million project on Terminals 2 and 3 at O'Hare Airport. The company said it had spent $26 million to make repairs to steel and thousands of welds.

"The problems were discovered in sufficient time that protective steps were taken to shore up the structure while the problems were fixed," Patton told reporters. He said travelers were never in danger and giant support columns had been put in place until last year.

"I don't know that there were visible cracks. But, the fact that structures were being supported by these big, ugly supports was very visible" to air travelers.

$300 Million Project

In 2001, plans were announced for a $300 million facade project that would enlarge Terminals 2 and 3 and shield passengers being dropped off during harsh weather. The project started in 2003.

The project, which was patterned after a German design by Jahn, called for replacing a concrete canopy over the sidewalk at the departures roadway with a translucent canopy made of steel skin and glass skylights.

The new canopy extended out 42 feet, covering both the sidewalk and two and a half lanes of traffic.

Walsh Construction

A new supplemental air traffic control tower at O'Hare was completed in 2008.

The project was funded through airline passenger ticket taxes and airport bonds, officials said.

Thousands of welds on the canopies had to be redone and defective material replaced, in repairs that took several years and were completed about a year ago, said Patton.

Calls to the mayor's office and Patton's office for more information were not immediately returned.


Tagged categories: Airports; Concrete defects; Contractors; Cracking; Designers; Laws and litigation; Steel; Welding

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