WESLEY CHAPEL — The Florida Department of Transportation has run out of patience with road builder D.A.B. Constructors and has found the contractor in default for delays in the construction of the so-called diverging diamond interchange at Interstate 75 and State Road 56.
The default means that the contractor’s surety bond company will now have to find a new company to finish the work — with an unknown timeline.
Pasco County Commissioner Mike Moore shared the information with fellow commissioners this week, pointing out that the news meant the completion would not come in time for the holiday season as had been hoped.
Last year, commissioners discussed their frustrations with the job after watching few workers and little progress for months and receiving a letter from local businesses who were complaining that no progress was taking place at the project.
The project is in Moore’s district, and he drives through the area regularly. He said the problems were unfortunate because the project will be good for the county. “Who pays the price is our citizens that pay their taxes and expect for these projects to be done in a timely manner,” he said.
D.A.B. was originally given 800 days to complete the job, and it was supposed to be done this summer. But rain days and other delays brought approval of more than 170 additional days for the contractor. Foster Bachschmidt, chief operating officer for the company, told the Tampa Bay Times after last year’s discussion that the job was unique but the company was committed to completing it.
Department of Transportation spokeswoman Kristen Carson said that the company had just run out of time to fix the problem.
“In November 2020 the Department issued a Notice of Intent to Default to the contractor due to concerns they were not proceeding at the pace required to meet the contractual completion date,” Carson wrote in an email to the Times. “D.A.B. Constructor’s response included a recovery schedule showing a project completion date of October 2021. From this schedule, the Department established interim milestone dates that the contractor would need to meet in order to avoid being defaulted.”
But, Carson said, they didn’t meet that timeline and notified the agency on June 25 that they were demobilizing the project.
Carson said she understood the frustration of local officials who wanted to see the interchange ready to go by this year’s busy holiday season.
“The Department will make adjustments to traffic signals and any traffic control devices to help accommodate extra traffic volume that is typical in the later year holiday season,” she said.
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When Pasco commissioners first raised their concerns about the contractor, they noted that D.A.B. has multiple projects in Pasco and in surrounding counties. There are still other Pasco projects underway, including one on State Road 52. Commissioner Jack Mariano noted Tuesday that he had just driven by the State Road 52 site before the meeting. He said he saw “tons of cars, but I didn’t see any bodies, didn’t see any work going on.”
Carson said that D.A.B. “has voluntarily agreed to not pursue any more FDOT work at this time.”
Officials with the company could not be reached for comment. An answering machine at their Inglis office stated that the staff was on vacation until June 12. A message seeking comment left on their line for emergencies was not immediately returned.