PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Construction projects are the bane of almost anyone’s driving experience, but there is good news you can think about the next time you’re stuck in traffic.
“We definitely care about the traveling public,” Asst. District 11 Executive of Construction, Jim Foringer said.
Actually, PennDOT works to minimize lane closures and detours on every construction project.
“The impact to the traveling public, the amount of additional travel time they have or delay in sitting in a construction zone. That is all evaluated in what the penalties are going into the contract,” Foringer said.
Penalties are written into every contract to make sure you get that driving lane back when promised.
“Our road user liquidated damages, which are meant to recoup the costs of the traveling public’s expense due to the additional delay,” Foringer said.
For example, when the Route 65 bridge over Eckert Street wasn’t finished on time, New Castle Construction was assessed $134,500 in fines.
“We actually do an adjustment and hold the money from the payments that are due,” Foringer said.
A couple years later, the late penalty was $65,000 when a bridge on Route 51 in Darlington Township wasn’t reopened on time.
When a bridge on Route 28 in Etna was delayed in opening I.A. Construction was penalized $96,000.
“We’ve had some up to $110,000 to $150,000 that were initially accessed,” Foringer said.
The largest penalty in PennDOT’s District 11 dealt with the reconstruction of the Fort Pitt Bridge ramps into the city back in 2000. When they were delayed in opening, Brayman Construction had to eat $1,084,500.
Most drivers KDKA-TV’s John Shumway spoke with were in favor of the fines.
However, there are some hefty fines attached to ongoing projects like the upcoming closures of the Squirrel Hill Tunnel.
“On Monday morning, if they don’t get open, it could be up $50,000 dollars an hour that they are penalized,” Foringer said.
But PennDOT also has incentives for projects to be finished ahead of time such as the reconstruction of the Fort Pitt Bridge in 2003.
“There were actually incentives on that project and they finished early and they got paid the incentive,” Foringer said.
The total paid out was roughly $3.7 million.