The Mount Rose Avenue interchange is finally complete, right? Well ...
With traffic moving freely, construction workers mostly gone and hardly a piece of equipment in sight, it appears the long overdue interchange project at Mount Rose Avenue and Interstate 83 is finally complete.
Well ... not quite.
With construction starting in 2015 and initially expected to be completed in 2018, the project is now nearing four years behind schedule and seven years since construction started.
And although final paving has been completed and there's no obvious construction, the process is still not done.
"The project is nearly complete," PennDOT spokesperson David Thompson said last week via email. "We expect completing the permit requirements will extend into the summer, then that should do it."
That work means contractor Cherry Hill Construction must ensure all National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System requirements are adhered to, he said. That includes certification of stormwater control measures, successful vegetation and shrub plantings, and complete seeding and stabilization of areas within the project limits to prevent erosion and sedimentation into natural water courses or stormwater drainage facilities.
Originally bid at $58.7 million, the project has risen to a total of $63.3 million, according to the state Department of Transportation.
Tutor Perini, the parent company of Cherry Hill Construction, directed questions on the matter to Cherry Hill.
When Cherry Hill was reached by phone, spokespeople directed questions to Tutor Perini.
If the Mount Rose project is completed in the summer, it will be the end of a saga that has lasted for years and prompted both legislative action by local representatives and legal action by Cherry Hill.
One bill, by state Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill, R-York Township, is intended to make agencies review bidders' history before awarding contracts. It is currently in the Senate Appropriations Committee after being unanimously approved by the Senate State Government Committee.
A similar bill by state Rep. Dawn Keefer, R-Dillsburg, has passed the House State Government Committee and been referred to the Appropriations Committee.
In addition to the legislative impact, Cherry Hill Construction filed with the quasi-judicial Board of Claims, which handles contract disputes, alleging the state owes it more than $24 million.
The company alleged that PennDOT has repeatedly breached its contract with the company since the project began, ignoring issues that surfaced along the way.
That case has not yet been decided, with no court dates upcoming.
PennDOT itself says Cherry Hill owes more than $31 million in damages, which are late fees demanded by the state.
— Reach Matt Enright via email at email@example.com or via Twitter at @Matthew_Enright.