Has there ever been a project more determined not to get done?
Lewiston Road seems to be the bridesmaid, always in waiting. The long suffering route took another glancing blow as construction came to an unexpected halt last Friday after Accadia Site Contracting stopped working. As of press time, it was expected that work would not proceed and the job is on hold.
The contractor said he found it necessary to stop due to a payment problem.
Accadia was awarded the contract to work on the Route 104 project in October 2012 after the previous contractor Man O' Trees walked off the job.
Work had been proceeding intermittently with the weather, but there was activity until the payment dispute.
The contractor uncovered some "unforeseen obstructions in the ground."
They continued to proceed as best they could, but ultimately, they could not advance without assurance that additional payment would be made, according to Anthony Milone, project manager for Accadia. He said the appropriate paperwork was prepared, but the City's supervising engineers, Wendel Duchscherer, refused to sign off on the extra work order.
City Engineer Jeffrey Skurka had no comment on the recent developments.
Lewiston Road has been the subject of litigation and drama since the discovery of more than anticipated radioactive material during the road reconstruction process. It has been a source of inconvenience and concern over potential deleterious health effects from exposure to what has been described as radioactive "slag."
There is a lawsuit pending in NY State Supreme Court before Judge Frank Caruso arising out of the alleged actions of the city and the previous contractor Man O' Trees.
Man O' Trees is represented by Niagara Falls attorney John Bartolomei, and his client has claimed that the city misrepresented the extent of environmental hazards under the road and then refused to pay for the additional costs of safely cleaning it up.
The Lewiston Road project started in August of 2009, and was to include new asphalt and concrete pavement, curbs, sidewalks, storm drains, sanitary and water lines and electrical work from Bath Avenue to the north city line.
Before Man O' Trees left the jobsite last year with about 50 percent of the work completed, the city had paid the contractor for about 85 percent of the original $7,713,000 contract. Because of mistakes and change orders the final cost of the project is expected to exceed $12 million and may be as high as $16 million before it is completed, not counting legal fees or damages.
The city will try to recover some costs by suing Man O' Trees bonding company Hanover Insurance.?
Eighty percent of the original job was to be paid for with federal money and the remaining share by the state and city. However, due to the blunders and alleged errors and omissions, it is uncertain just how much of the near doubling of costs will be absorbed by the city.
What should have been an $800,000 investment by the city has become one almost certain to run in the multiple millions.
The project was scheduled to be completed more than two years ago.
Critics of Mayor Paul Dyster point to the fact that when the contract for the original construction work was awarded, Dyster did not have a licensed engineer in place to represent the city. After firing the former city engineer on the first day of his administration, it took him nearly a year and half to find a replacement.
When he did, he hired an engineer from Los Angeles, Ali Marzban, who he fired following a report in this publication that revealed that he did not have an engineering license.
After he was fired, the Lewiston project moved on without a city engineer to monitor the project and costs exploded.
The outside consulting engineer, Wendel Engineering, took over the monitoring duties, as the city had no official representative. This worked out well for Wendel, who had been originally hired as the engineering consultant at $1.395 million and to date has been paid more than $4.1 million and that figure is climbing.
A meeting to address the current situation between Accadia and the City has yet to be scheduled.