Contractor could face fines for missing paving deadlineBy ANTHONY WARREN,
Jackson city officials aren’t saying whether contractors will be penalized for finishing months behind schedule on a major street repaving project.
In 2016, the city brought on Superior Asphalt, of Byram, to repave seven major thoroughfares, including Ridgewood Road and Briarwood Drive in Northeast Jackson.
The contract was entered into on September 19 of that year, and contractors were given 240 calendar days to complete the work.
It was not known if the days included weekends.
If weekends were included, work should have wrapped up on May 17, 2017; without weekends, the streets should have been finished by August 22 of the same year.
For each day past the 240, the contract calls for charging Superior $500 a day in “liquidated damages.”
Based on the May deadline, Superior would have owed $118,000 at press time and $49,000, based on the August deadline.
At press time, Briarwood and Ridgewood were still incomplete although the major part of the work was done. Orange cones, although sparse, can be seen along portions of both streets.
The contract included repaving Briarwood from North State Street to I-55, and Ridgewood from Northside Drive to East County Line Road.
Public Works Director Bob Miller also said the project had not been completed.
“The project is not complete until the contractor has completed punch list items. Prior to authorizing final payment to the contractors, we will meet with (them) to review liquidated damages and other closeout documents.”
Miller expects the work to wrap up by the end of the month.
“We are developing a final punch list for the contractor to complete,” he said.
When asked if liquidated damages would be assessed, Miller said the item would be addressed during its final meeting with Superior.
The project is being paid for with revenues generated by the city’s one-percent infrastructure sales tax.
The one-percent oversight commission agreed to fund the work. The city approved the contract under previous Mayor Tony Yarber.
Commissioner Jonathan Lee was unsure whether Superior should pay the fines, based on the previous administration’s handling of one-percent work.
“The question is where we are in terms of the deal. Did we live up to our terms of the contract? If we find we have lived up to our end, we should (require) liquidated damages,” he said.
Lee didn’t know why the paving hadn’t been completed.
“On the face of it, it looks egregious (but) I don’t know the specifics as to why they’re late.”
Determining who is at fault isn’t easy, though. A copy of the contract shows that the agreement was entered into on September 19, 2016.
City officials to told the Sun last fall that the city didn’t issue a notice to proceed until that November.
Notices to proceed are the official “go-aheads” given to firms working on municipal contracts. The notices are only issued after the agreements are signed off on by the mayor, city council and legal department.
Contractors were unable to work most of November and December because of inclement weather.
Superior officially began work on the first street on January 20, 2017.
Before that, city officials said Superior missed several start dates, including January 3 and January 10.
Work didn’t begin until after then-Mayor Yarber threatened to cancel the contract at the January one-percent commission meeting.
While questions surround when a notice to proceed was issued, the city and former one-percent program manager IMS Engineers previously blamed delays on the contractor.
IMS oversaw all one-percent contracts.
IMS Engineers told the Sun the work schedule had to be modified, because contractors were waiting on Bulldog Construction to finish up work on sidewalks.
Bulldog was one of the minority contractors brought in by Superior to help the firm meet the city’s minority participation requirements.
Bulldog is a certified female business enterprise (FBE) with the city of Jackson. Jackson’s Equal Business Opportunity Ordinance establishes that minority and female-owned businesses like Bulldog must receive a certain percentage of city contracts.
The Madison-based contractor was responsible for sidewalk and curb and gutter work, and was to receive 2.47 percent of the total contract price, according to a copy of the contract.
IMS was brought on in late 2015 to oversee one-percent funded projects. The firm transitioned out of management in 2017.
According to an initial work schedule released by IMS early last year, Superior was supposed to begin milling and overlaying Briarwood the week beginning March 19. Ridgewood was expected to get under way in April.
Work included milling and paving the streets, as well as bringing sidewalks up to Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements.
Work on the first roadway, Gallatin Street, was expected to take a month or so to complete.
IMS told the Sun the schedule had to be modified, though, because of delays caused by Bulldog Construction.
IMS told the Sun crews with Superior couldn’t begin paving Briarwood and Ridgewood until Bulldog finished sidewalk repairs.
Construction on the Northside streets got under way in May.
The initial coats of asphalt were poured, even though sidewalk work had not been completed.
Crews then quit working about a week into the Briarwood project due to inclement weather.
For months, both streets were left unfinished, with the initial base coat of asphalt being poured in some areas and not poured in others. As for Briarwood, most of the center turn lane went unpaved for months.
Major repaving didn’t wrap up until December, and by January 5,
Superior couldn’t be reached for comment.