• Thu. Aug 11th, 2022

Governor Hochul must resolve Cuomo Bridge dispute and build trust, contractors warn

ByLinda W. Smith

Sep 28, 2021

Dive brief:

  • The companies that built the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge under former Gov. Andrew Cuomo are warning Gov. Kathy Hochul to resolve financial disputes over the $ 4 billion project or risk losing major contractual deals.
  • Statements from the Tappan Zee Constructors (TZC) consortium come during Hochul’s first month on assignment and indicate that she will have to work hard to overcome her predecessor’s legacy and build trust with the contractors.
  • The former governor’s behavior “has greatly reduced the likelihood that TZC and its member companies will work in New York State in the future, and several of our member companies have no explicit current plans to work in New York. until this matter is satisfactorily resolved., “Sam Choy, TZC executive in charge of the project, written in a letter obtained by Politico.

Dive overview:

The 3.1-mile bridge spanning the Hudson River, named after Cuomo’s father, is one of his flagship projects. The former governor has often boasted of delivering it on time and on budget, but builders say it was only possible because they were forced to cover nearly $ 1 billion. cost overruns. The bridge, which opened in 2017, was built in a design-build process that was the first of its kind for major construction projects in New York City.

September 9 in the letter, TZC, a design-build team that includes Fluor, American Bridge, Traylor Bros. and Granite Construction, reiterated its position that Cuomo interfered with the project through the New York State Thruway Authority, altering design plans that delayed the project and pushed up costs, which the city then refused to pay. TZC also said the Thruway Authority refused to extend the project schedule despite inevitable issues such as a tugboat accident and winter weather conditions, causing it to speed up work instead.

“In their 400 years of collective activity, our member companies have never experienced this level of contempt from a client of the project,” Choy wrote in the letter.

TZC chased the city in February after three years of trying to resolve the issue in private. Months later, the authority settled some claims for $ 28 million and TZC withdrew its lawsuit before continuing talks with Cuomo before his resignation. Now, however, TZC wants to be reimbursed. She is asking for $ 961 million plus interest for the additional costs associated with inclement weather, a collapsed crane and interference from Thruway.

Every day that goes by without a deal means higher costs for everyone involved due to the interest accrued on the claims. That could mean higher toll prices if the total price of the bridge goes over budget by $ 4 billion, TZC said.

In another layer of legal drama, a 2017 whistleblower lawsuit unsealed in March alleged that critical flaws were covered up during the bridge’s construction, the Times Union reported. TZC and the state deny the charge, but TZC paid $ 2 million to settle the case.

Despite the troubled history, TZC leaders say they hope they have the opportunity to turn a new leaf with Hochul, Politico reports. Neither his administration nor TZC responded to Construction Dive’s request for comment.

In related news, Hochul administration is now re-examining remaining Andrew Cuomo-era infrastructure projects including AirTrain LaGuardia and the redevelopment of Penn Station and may delay or delete them, depending on The Wall Street Journal. Opponents said the plans are not well thought out and that expanding the free bus service would be more profitable than installing the $ 2.1 billion AirTrain. Regarding the Penn Station project, some critics have said it would be best to wait and see if commuters return after the pandemic before building the massive public transport and office complex.

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