Mount Rose project completion date pushed back to 2021
The completion date for the Mount Rose project on Interstate 83 has once again been pushed back, and the project is now expected to be finished in April 2021 — almost three years behind the originally scheduled completion date.
Dave Thompson, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, confirmed the delay on Monday. But he couldn't give an exact reason why the completion date for the project, spearheaded by Maryland-based Cherry Hill Construction, was again pushed back.
The project was initially slated for completion in June 2018. As recently as January, the project was slated to wrap up this summer.
"I think they're pretty much revising (the schedule) as they progress, when they get a clearer picture of when they're going to be able to complete it," Thompson said. "As you know, we did have a brief shutdown due to COVID-19 with our construction. That may have had a little play into it as well."
Cherry Hill Construction did not immediately respond Monday to requests for comment.
The company originally bid $58.3 million for the work.
But the contractor has since incurred $15.6 million in liquidated damages, essentially late fees imposed by the state, after the state argued the company failed to meet agreed-upon specifications.
PennDOT, however, has emphasized that it does not consider these costs fines.
The company has made progress recently, completing a new on-ramp at the I-83 North interchange this past week, giving drivers the ability to merge onto the highway from Mount Rose Avenue via Haines Road.
Thompson said he was unaware of what specifically the contractor was working on next, but he said the agency still expects Cherry Hill to meet the new April 2021 completion date.
When asked if the delays have been frustrating for the agency, Thompson declined to comment specifically, only saying, "Obviously, we'd like the project to be completed, as we would with all of our projects."
Cherry Hill and PennDOT remain in a legal battle, filed with the state Board of Claims, over who is to blame for the delays.
In December 2019, the contractor filed a claim with the state's quasi-judicial agency handling contract disputes, alleging the state owes it more than $24 million.
It also sought a 598-day extension to the contract's completion date. It was unclear whether the claim is referring to the initial June 2018 deadline or the more recently anticipated third quarter of 2020 deadline.
The company alleged the state Department of Transportation has consistently breached its contract with the company since the project began, ignoring issues that surfaced along the way.
PennDOT replied, arguing that it abided by the contract and that any delays were the fault of Cherry Hill Construction.
A hearing date has not yet been set.
— Logan Hullinger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.