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Friday, December 18, 2015 by Tyler Whitson

CTRMA issues notice of default on MoPac project

The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority issued a notice of default Thursday to CH2M Hill – the contractor that has been working on the MoPac Improvement Project – over delays that have caused work to continue far beyond the $200 million project’s original September completion date.

“This is part of our contractual discussions and construction is expected to continue during this process,” said Mike Heiligenstein, the mobility authority’s executive director, in a Thursday press release. “We will continue to work to deliver the MoPac Improvement Project as soon as possible.”

According to the press release, CH2M now has 60 days to provide the mobility authority with a plan for how it will complete the project “pursuant to an acceptable schedule” due to its “failure … to increase the current pace of construction.”

The Austin Monitor reported in July that delays on the 11.2-mile double toll lane project on the MoPac Expressway have been attributed to “labor shortages, drilling problems, weather issues, continual run-ins with unidentified utility infrastructure and debatably differing site conditions than those originally agreed upon.”

While CH2M has submitted claims regarding its delays to the mobility authority, the latter party, according to the press release, “has not found justification to compensate CH2M for these claims or to extend the project completion deadline.”

The mobility authority has already assessed more than $1 million in contractual damages related to the project and is considering assessing a total of $20 million in contractual damages to CH2M for issues it says relate to the contractor’s failure to complete the project on time.

Craig Martell, the executive director for the MoPac Improvement Project for CH2M, responded to a request for comment from the Monitor on Thursday. “We were surprised by the fact that the default notice on MoPac was actually out in the press before we ever received any information from CTRMA,” said Martell.

The Austin American-Statesman broke the news late Thursday morning.

“We don’t really have a comment at this time until we have an opportunity to digest their letter, at which time we’ll make a public statement,” Martell concluded.

Photo courtesy of the MoPac Improvement Project website

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Key Players & Topics In This Article

CTRMA: The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority. A governmental agency created, according to its web site, in 2002 to "improve the transportation system in Williamson and Travis counties." The site also notes that the agency's "mission is to implement innovative, multi-modal transportation solutions that reduce congestion and create transportation choices that enhance quality of life and economic vitality." In addition to other responsibilities, the agency oversees a set of toll roads in the region.

MoPac: Texas State Highway Loop 1 is also known as "MoPac" after the Missouri Pacific Railroad it was built on. The scenic highway runs from the beginning of the State Highway 45 to US 183.

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