To consolidate, disseminate, and gather information concerning the 710 expansion into our San Rafael neighborhood and into our surrounding neighborhoods. If you have an item that you would like posted on this blog, please e-mail the item to Peggy Drouet at pdrouet@earthlink.net

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Contractor for 405 freeway work sues MTA over cost overruns, delays


By Dakota Smith, July 1, 2014

 The under construction Wilshire to the northbound 405 onramp in West Los Angeles on Aug. 22, 2013.

The lengthy delays and cost overruns surrounding the massive 405 Freeway widening project in the Sepulveda Pass are at the heart of a new lawsuit targeting the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
Contractor Kiewit is suing Metro, alleging the county transportation agency caused “massive amounts of extra work” on the $1 billion project. Omaha, Neb.,-based Kiewit is the sole contractor on the new carpool lane, which connects the 10 and 101 freeways along the 405, and opened in May.

Kiewit is seeking in excess of $400 million for out-of-pocket costs, according to court documents. The contractor wants an independent, three-member dispute review board to evaluate its claims against Metro.

The lawsuit, filed in mid-May, cites numerous problems, including Metro’s failure to relocate utility lines from the area and to manage the Mulholland Bridge redesign. It also blames the agency for the 2011 collapse of a large retaining wall.

“Kiewit is asserting that those issues are the contractual responsibility of MTA,” said attorney Jim Moye, who represents Kiewit.

Opened in May, the 405 project added a new carpool lane to the northbound side of the freeway, part of an effort to ease traffic through the notoriously congested area.

Kiewit was hired in 2009 to oversee the project, which quickly encountered numerous hurdles. Workers had to remove at least 9 miles of unexpected utility lines, the lawsuit states. A legal claim filed last year by a Bel Air landowner forced the redesign of a freeway on-ramp near the Getty Museum, while the retaining wall collapse also delayed work.

The project finished at least a year behind schedule. Amid the setbacks, U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman in 2013 called for a review by the Federal Highway Administration. The agency named the retaining wall collapse as the biggest contributing factor to its delayed completion in a report released last summer.

While disputes over cost overruns aren’t uncommon in such large projects, in this case, an independent three-member dispute review board was supposed to be one of the mechanisms to resolve claims by Kiewit and Metro, said Kiewit spoksman Bob Kula.

Kiewit’s push for a hearing in front of the board prompted the lawsuit, Kula said. Metro staff has “made it clear that they aren’t pursuing that option,” Kula said.

In a statement, Metro spokesman Dave Sotero said that “Metro does not believe this claim complies with those contract requirements. However, Metro continues to negotiate in good faith with Kiewit to resolve specific outstanding claims under terms of its contract.”

Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who represents this portion of Los Angeles and has publicly blamed Kiewit for the project’s delays, declined to comment Tuesday.

Kiewit is still working on the final aspects of the carpool lane, Kula said, and should be finished in the next few months.