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Pasco fires construction firm over U.S. 41 delays

DADE CITY — Pasco commissioners voted Tuesday to terminate a $5 million contract with a Tampa firm that officials say is behind schedule and has done subpar work on a utility project key to the widening of U.S. 41.

Kearney Construction Co. LLC had been the low bidder to build a 30-inch water main and relocate other utilities in anticipation of the U.S. 41 road-widening project.

The state Department of Transportation's contractor on the road project, R.E. Purcell, can't proceed until the utility work reaches certain milestones, officials said.

Project engineer Parsons Water & Infrastructure Inc. told the county that Kearney was not close to meeting certain milestone deadlines by Sept. 4. DOT said the county would be liable for any delays on the road work caused by the utility work.

"We're not going to get this done with the current contractor," utilities director Bruce Kennedy told commissioners. "This is not something we want to do but something we feel we have to do."

Kennedy said Kearney had damaged a county water line. Parsons said in a letter to the county that Kearney had problems finding leaks on the pipe it had installed.

No Kearney representative was at Tuesday's meeting. County Administrator John Gallagher said company officials had not returned his phone message from Monday.

Kearney officials could not be reached immediately Tuesday afternoon.

The bonding company on the project, Travelers Casualty and Surety Company of America, notified the county last month to send all future payments to it instead of Kearney, according to county records.

The bonding company will decide which firm should take over and finish the utility work.

The contract gives the county the option to terminate for cause upon seven days' notice.

Kennedy said Tuesday that it was unusual for the county to fire a contractor from a job. He said he was unsure how much money the county had already provided to Kearney. The company has done other work in the county, he said, and did it well.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: Parsons Water & Infrastructure Inc., the engineer on a utility project on U.S. 41, notified the county that contractor Kearney Construction Co. LLC was behind schedule and had problems finding leaks on the pipe it had installed. A story Wednesday said a different company notified the county.

Pasco fires construction firm over U.S. 41 delays 08/11/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 12, 2009 5:22pm]
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