Commuters waiting since last March for construction along U.S. Highway 24-40 and Kansas Highway 7 to finish will have to wait until the end of February.
The new deadline is causing the state to assess liquidated damages on APAC-Kansas Inc., the project’s primary contractor, because of ongoing construction work that now has extended beyond the scheduled winter 2008 completion date.
Kimberly Qualls, with the Kansas Department of Transportation, said the damages are being assessed starting from Nov. 15, 2008, at $10,000 per day, excluding Sundays and holidays.
Qualls said the project had been delayed because of the weather and other roadwork APAC needed to finish from the 2007 construction season.
“Some of the work they had planned in 2007 didn’t get done in time so it carried over, creating a domino effect,” Qualls said.
Dave Taggart, APAC’s project manager for the U.S. 24-40/K-7 interchange, said his crews have been working to finish the project, but his construction schedule depends on the weather.
“You can’t work when it’s wet,” Taggart said. “We have been monitoring the weather on a day-to-day basis and sometimes an hour-to-hour basis to squeeze in however much work we can.”
The crews have started working on days KDOT normally does not work, such as Sundays, to complete the project, according to Mike Johnson, another KDOT official.
Taggart, who took over the project in the summer, did not want to comment on the liquidated damages the state wants to assess, but said he wanted to reach an agreement with KDOT.
Not only is the job months behind schedule, but the updated $37.7 million price tag is $2 million more than the original estimate.
Qualls said the surging cost of fuel in the summer, cost adjustments to lighting and erosion-control items, plus the addition of technology, such as traffic cameras, are to blame for the increase in project costs.
Taggart said both lanes on K-7 should be open, but reduced to one lane, by this afternoon and he hopes to do the same to U.S. 24-40 within the next two weeks. Weather permitting, he said he thought his crews could meet the new February deadline.
The work remaining on the project includes construction needed for concrete pavement and concrete barriers, installation of crash safety devices and signs, removal of temporary striping and placement of permanent striping and removal of temporary asphalt crossover pavement.