As Frederick officials prepare to celebrate the opening of the bridge on Monocacy Boulevard this week, the city ultimately faces a decision on how to deal with the aftermath of the project.
The long-awaited bridge is scheduled to open Thursday, after closing the section of road between Schifferstadt Boulevard and Gas House Pike since October 2017.
“I’m ecstatic that the road is opening. Our residents have waited a long time for this,” Frederick Mayor Michael O’Connor said Friday.
The project will add a second bridge adjacent to the old one across the Monocacy River, widen about 3,550 feet of the road to a four-lane arterial road, and add a traffic signal at Gas House Pike, along with new paths and other amenities.
But delays due to issues between the city of Frederick and contractor Milani Construction pushed the completion date from April to late July. Then the end of October. And at one point, city officials said they had no solid date for when the road would open.
The contract signed between Milani and the city on Jan. 10, 2017, for the $21.6 million project said that substantial completion of the project was to be achieved 825 calendar days after the commencement of a notice to proceed from the city.
Final completion, with the finishing of minor details not vital to the project’s opening, would be due within 90 days of substantial completion.
Substantial completion means that work has progressed to the point where the engineer overseeing the project determines a project can be used for the purpose for which it was intended.
The notice to proceed was given on Feb. 6, 2017, Tracy Coleman, Frederick’s deputy director of public works, engineering and operations, said in an email Friday.
The bridge is expected to reach substantial completion before its official opening on Thursday.
The contract allows “liquidated damages” of $7,000 per calendar day beyond the required substantial and final completion dates to be deducted from any money that’s due to Milani.
Milani could not be reached for comment Friday.
But while the penalties are stiff, the contract gives Milani plenty of room to explain why the delays were justified.
The contract exempts the company, and the city, from liability for delay due to “acts of God, actions or regulations by any governmental entity or representative, strikes or other labor trouble, fire, embargoes, or other transportation delays, damage to or destruction in whole or in part, of equipment or manufacturing plant, lack of or ability to obtain raw materials, labor, fuel or supplies for any reason including default of suppliers, or any other causes, contingencies or circumstances not subject to the Contractor’s or City’s control, respectively, whether of a similar or dissimilar nature, which prevent or hinder the performance of the Contractor’s or City’s contractual obligations, respectively.”
O’Connor said Friday that the city’s focus remains on getting the bridge open.
But it’s certainly fair to say that they continue to uphold their rights to examine their options going forward, he said.