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Contractor Defaults, Bridge Job Restarts

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

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Replacing a lane of defective concrete is among the jobs to be taken on by a crediting agency after the lead contractor on a major project on the International Bridge in Michigan went into default.

The bridge, which spans the St. Mary’s River between Sault Ste. Marie, MI, and Sault Ste. Marie, ON, underwent an $8.9 million toll plaza reconstruction project starting in 2014. In October 2015, officials held a ribbon-cutting ceremony as the project was largely completed.

Sault International Bridge
Ccyyrree, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The International Bridge, a steel truss arch bridge, was built from 1960 through 1962 and carries traffic between Sault Ste. Marie, MI, and Sault Ste. Marie, ON.

Soon after, though, concrete defects began to show in the brand-new toll plaza lanes. The Michigan Department of Transportation says the concrete in Lane 5 did not meet its specifications, and called for the surface to be removed and replaced.

Contractor Troubles

Alpena, MI-based DeVere Construction, which was the prime contractor on the job, began facing other troubles soon after. In late January, the company reportedly walked away from a number of active jobs in North Carolina, alleging it was owed money by the state’s Department of Transportation. The DOT then accused DeVere of breach of contract.

International Bridge ribbon cutting
MDOT

In October 2015, officials held a ribbon-cutting ceremony as the project was largely completed; the trouble began soon after.

Soon after, Liberty Mutual, its bonding agency, sued DeVere for $12.5 million for breach of contract and submission of false financial information. In the fallout from that matter, Lake Superior State University, in Sault Ste. Marie, cancelled a contract with DeVere for a major renovation.

The Sault Star reports that DeVere closed its doors earlier this year, and as a result, Liberty Mutual is responsible for the replacement of the faulty concrete and other smaller jobs, including the construction of a canopy, that were left unfinished by the contractor.

Finishing, Fixing the Job

Liberty Mutual will perform the unfinished work for the remaining $410,000 on the contract, using the same subcontractors that were originally hired for the job where possible, according to the International Bridge Administration. The replacement of the lane that was not constructed to standards will be paid for by Liberty Mutual.

The International Bridge Administration runs the bridge independently, largely funding it through toll collection.

The toll plaza reconstruction project, which took place on the U.S. end of the bridge, involved the construction of a new administration building, to replace the original, 53-year-old building, and the construction of seven toll lanes, to replace the five that existed previously.

Bridge History

The International Bridge, a steel truss arch bridge, was built from 1960 through 1962, and is the only vehicular crossing between the U.S. and Canada for 300 miles, according to the International Bridge Administration. It is nearly 2.8 miles long and carries almost 2 million vehicles annually, the administration says.

In 2009, the Canadian government, as part of a larger stimulus plan, created a $44 million grant for improvements to the plaza on the Canadian side of the bridge.

   

Tagged categories: Asia Pacific; Bankruptcy; Bridges; concrete; Contracts; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Finance; Government contracts; Latin America; North America; Program/Project Management; Roads/Highways

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