Mount Rose project contractor demands more money, more time from PennDOT
The contractor in charge of the Mount Rose interchange project says the state owes it more than $24 million and an extension to finish the highway construction, according to a claim filed with a state judicial agency last week.
Maryland-based Cherry Hill Construction — a company that has been publicly castigated over its handling of the project on Interstate 83 — filed the 26-page claim with the state Board of Claims on Tuesday, Dec. 3.
The filing comes as the roughly $60 million project is more than a year overdue.
The company alleged the state Department of Transportation has consistently breached its contract with the company since the project began.
For example, the company claimed conditions at the project site could not have been anticipated in advance and that PennDOT "failed to take seriously" the issues it experienced.
Problems encountered by the company include excavation work that revealed an unknown water source that flowed into the project area. The company alleged PennDOT did not allow it to properly mitigate the issue.
On top of the $24.2 million in damages, Cherry Hill seeks a 598-day extension to the contract's completion date. It is unclear whether the claim is referring to the initial June 2018 deadline or the more recently anticipated third quarter of 2020 deadline.
PennDOT spokeswoman Alexis Campbell declined comment Wednesday because the matter involved active litigation. Cherry Hill Construction did not immediately respond to calls for comment.
The Mount Rose interchange project — and the contractor in charge of it — have drawn the ire of local officials and residents alike.
In November 2018, the state began penalizing Cherry Hill Construction for each day the project was overdue. It later levied an additional $14,000 daily penalty in July for missing the deadline to remove the reduced speed zone.
The $24.2 million sought by the company far exceeds the nearly $7 million it has been penalized since the state began to crack down. The claim also argued those penalties should be reversed.
Amid waning patience from the public, state lawmakers have said Cherry Hill Construction should no longer be considered a qualified bidder in the state of Pennsylvania.
However, bound by contract, the company will continue its work, as a laundry list of yet-to-be-completed projects remain. Projects include construction on the middle section of I-83 and reconstruction of the Mount Rose Avenue eastbound exit and ramp.
Those projects come on top of the necessary installation of new traffic signals, structure work, highway lighting and pavement markings.
— Logan Hullinger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.