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Bridge opening delay could cost contractor

Repairs to Pa. 316 bridge near Chambersburg, Pa., not expected to be complete until end of October

September 29, 2011|By JENNIFER FITCH | waynesboro@herald-mail.com
  • The Pa. 316 bridge over CSX railroad tracks closed in mid-July, starting the clock on a contractual deadline that calls for it to be reopened to traffic within 80 days. PennDOT is able to assess what PennDOT calls "liquidated damages" for each day after the 80-day mark. The bridge is a few miles south of Chambersburg. Pa. 316 is the major connector between Chambersburg and Waynesboro, Pa.
Herald-Mail file photo

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — The contractor replacing a Pa. 316 bridge's superstructure faces hefty penalties if it does not reopen that section of road to traffic by Oct. 6, a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation spokesman said Thursday.

Whiting-Turner Contracting Co. of Baltimore could be assessed $33,700 each calendar day after that date, spokesman Greg Penny said.

"The contractor has indicated to us they aren't going to be finished until late October," he said.

The bridge over CSX railroad tracks closed in mid-July, starting the clock on a contractual deadline that calls for it to be reopened to traffic within 80 days. PennDOT is able to assess what PennDOT calls "liquidated damages" for each day after the 80-day mark.

The bridge is a few miles south of Chambersburg. Pa. 316 is the major connector between Chambersburg and Waynesboro, Pa.

Penny said the amount of liquidated damages is typically $1,000 or $1,500 a day, but bigger projects can have a daily amount of up to $200,000 in the contract.

"Route 316 is a pretty big corridor. We'd have big or hefty liquidated damages in the contract," Penny said.

Attorneys for both sides may negotiate over delays Whiting-Turner said was not its fault, he said.

Ken Jones, Whiting-Turner's superintendent on the job, referred a reporter's inquiries to PennDOT.

The contractor faces additional damages associated with the rehabilitation project. Because it did not complete the work by Sept. 16, which was the contracted completion date, PennDOT plans to add on liquidated damages of $925 a day for that.

"There's going to be a substantial amount they'll be assessed for liquidated damages," Penny said.

One more issue with the project is a deadline by which all state paving must be finished for the year.

"Mid-October is the deadline for what we call wearing course or final paving," Penny said.

After that point, paving would need to be resumed in the spring when temperatures do not affect materials.

Traffic has been detoured using Interstate 81 since the bridge closed. PennDOT records indicate Pa. 316, known locally as Wayne Highway, averages 9,772 vehicles a day.

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