ALPHARETTA, Ga.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–In response to a Jan. 28th lawsuit filed by the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) in connection with the Indian River Inlet Bridge (IRIB) replacement project against bridge design firm Figg Bridge Engineers, Inc. (Figg), MACTEC, a sub-consultant to Figg, denies the allegations in the lawsuit and cites DelDOT’s actions, project management, and decision-making as the factors that led to increased costs for the bridge. MACTEC is confident that a truly objective, fact-based review of the chronology of events, DelDOT’s responsibilities, and DelDOT’s decisions, including withholding of key information from Figg and MACTEC with the approval from the highest level in DelDOT, will result in dismissal of the complaint.
“We have worked with state Department of Transportation (DOT) agencies in almost all of the states for more than 65 years and have successfully designed hundreds of DOT infrastructure projects,” said MACTEC President/CEO Ann E. Massey. “Our track record speaks for itself. We believe that DelDOT is not following its own processes and procedures, nor has it reasonably considered the impacts of its own decisions. MACTEC looks forward to participating in a fair and impartial proceeding to resolve this matter.”
Multiple key points highlight DelDOT’s responsibilities and support MACTEC’s position:
- In 2003-2004, the Figg/MACTEC design team’s work was examined by DelDOT, a University of Delaware professor, the well respected design team of T.Y. Lin and Schnabel Engineering, and the Federal Highway Administration. All parties commented on and ultimately approved the design. Based on these reviews, MACTEC met all contractual requirements.
- In November 2005, despite the fact that the original bridge design was canceled, DelDOT authorized spending millions of dollars to construct embankments for the original bridge. DelDOT knew and understood that the original bridge would never be built and that any other bridge design would require that changes be made to the embankments which would likely include the removal of large sections.
- In response to preliminary concerns about embankment settlement, DelDOT retained the services of an ”independent” geotechnical firm, with which DelDOT began to have secret meetings. The geotechnical firm ultimately reported in August 2007 that the settlement would be greater than anticipated and would take longer than anticipated. However, the report was based on incorrect assumptions and minimal information and proved to be inaccurate before the deconstruction of the embankments commenced. Despite requests from Figg and MACTEC, DelDOT, with approval from the highest level in DelDOT, refused to share pertinent information with the design team.
- In October 2007, DelDOT prepared a Proposed Path Forward. When this document was reviewed by the Federal Highway Administration, they labeled it as “full of scare tactics and misdirection to avoid doing the proper engineering.” Rather than performing the engineering requested by the federal government’s primary technical agency for bridge design and construction, DelDOT forged ahead on its predetermined path without involving the design team.
- In January 2008, DelDOT hired outside counsel and two consulting claims firms to assist in the investigation at an estimated cost of $2.1 million. Neither consulting firm was asked to review/recommend methods to address technical issues of concern. Instead, the firms were requested to determine the fault of the design team. Three years later, each firm issued reports. Both firms have acknowledged they cannot support the report of the ‘independent’ geotechnical firm upon which the DelDOT Proposed Path Forward was based, that they had not considered the bases of DelDOT’s decision, and that they did not investigate the installation of certain critical aspects of the embankments by the contractor. In short, DelDOT retained three firms who worked over 3 years to get the answer DelDOT wanted, rather than to assist DelDOT to fulfill its stated mission to provide a safe, efficient, and environmentally-sensitive transportation network.
- In April 2008, geotechnical monitoring data showed that the embankments had reached the required settlement and the original bridge design plan could have been constructed without removal of the constructed embankments. The predictions on the amount and length of time for settlement by the “independent” geotechnical firm were clearly overstated.
- In May 2008, DelDOT, again, authorized spending millions of dollars to deconstruct the embankments. DelDOT claims the decision to be based on the engineering report from the “independent” geotechnical firm. Factually, however, this expenditure was the direct result of DelDOT’s 2005 decision to proceed with building embankments for a bridge design that was never intended to be built. DelDOT had to accommodate the new bridge design by removing significant amounts of the embankment on both sides regardless of the accuracy of any predictions made by anyone as to settlement.
- Disagreements and disputes on construction projects are routinely discussed and resolved with full disclosure of all facts and information by all parties, not by one party publicly rendering biased judgment based on its opinions before the contractual disputes process is complete.
MACTEC (www.mactec.com) is an award winning national engineering, design, and construction firm with 2,700 employees in 70 offices nationwide. MACTEC consistently ranks in the top 10% of Engineering News-Record’s Top 500 Design Firms.
James F. Lee, Jr, 202-530-8100