Construction company fined for Beltway delays

State penalizes Dick Corp. $12,400 for failing to open lanes by 5 a.m.


News from around the Baltimore region

September 16, 2005|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,SUN STAFF

The State Highway Administration has fined a contractor that left early-rising motorists fuming this week by failing to reopen closed Beltway lanes in time for the morning commute.

Highway administration spokesman David Buck said the agency has levied penalties totaling $12,400 against the Pittsburgh-based Dick Corp. for delays Monday, Tuesday and yesterday in reopening lanes of the Outer Loop southwest of Baltimore.

Dick is the prime contractor for the $67.4 million project to widen the Beltway between Interstates 70 and 95. Under its contract with the state, Buck said, the company is expected to perform its roadwork overnight and have its equipment and lane-closing signs off the road by 5 a.m.

If Dick fails to do so, it can be fined $50 for the first five minutes it goes over and $50 for each subsequent minute. Dick was fined $3,800 for Monday, $3,300 for Tuesday and $5,300 for yesterday, Buck said.

He said the company and its subcontractors - for whose work Dick is responsible - did not complete sign removal and reopen all lanes until about 6:20 a.m. Monday and 6:10 a.m. Tuesday.

Dick reopened the lanes about 5:30 a.m. yesterday, Buck said, but the fine was higher because workers took longer to remove the signs.

Buck said it was hard to say how much the contractor's delays had to do with traffic congestion on the Beltway.

"It backs up every day anyway," he said.

Buck said the highway administration has inspectors out on the Beltway every night pushing the contractor to reopen by the contractually mandated time. "What we can hold over them is the monetary disincentive," he said.

Buck said that until this week the company has had a good record of compliance on the project, which has been under way for 3 1/2 years.

Steve Jackson, Dick's local project manager, said the company would have no comment on the delays or fines.

Buck said the main problems have occurred at the interchange that leads off the Outer Loop to I-95 and then splits into northbound and southbound ramps.

Buck said the contractor has been operating under rules that haven't permitted it to close the ramp until midnight each night. He said the highway agency has offered to let Dick close the ramp at 11 p.m. to give it extra time to complete its work.

State officials held a ceremony Aug. 30 to celebrate the "completion" of a project adding a fourth lane to the Beltway's southwest segment. Weeks later, however, the contractor is finishing the final repaving.

Buck said the contractor is expected to need four or five more nights of work over the next two weeks to finish.

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