Monocacy Bridge

The new bridge carrying Monocacy Boulevard over the Monocacy River was not ready to open at the end of October as expected.

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.

Follow Ryan Marshall on Twitter: @RMarshallFNP.

Ryan Marshall is the transportation and growth and development reporter for the News-Post. He can be reached at rmarshall@newspost.com.

(19) comments

birdie

Frederick county is the only area I have ever lived that roads are completely shut down to repair or re route. Usually new area is built and shifted to at least one lane then eventually back to normal. Happened with Ijamsville road a few years ago as well

Whatsup

Less than two days away people! Winter weather in the forecast for tomorrow. Let us take an informal vote! Who thinks the bridge will be open Thursday? [lol]

Brookhawk

When my condo building contracted for a new roof, they accepted a bid by a contractor who promised the job to be completed in 3 weeks. Four months later it was finally done, and for most of that time there was not a full crew on the job. Likewise, on the Monocacy Blvd bridge over the US 15 project, there were plenty of days where I only saw a crew of a handful of men. Sometimes it seems when a contractor gets behind on one job, they ease off to put more workers on a job just starting up, so they don't get a late start or get behind on that one. Delays need to be figured into the original estimates, if in fact "you always have delays on a construction job." Some delays are tolerable - some are just not.

pechorin

And because of the necessary (so we're told) closure of the existing bridge, this was a project on which any significant delay should have been considered intolerable--even if extra money was required up-front. It's not like the traffic situation was unforeseeable. Nor was the seemingly universal situation with contractors: i.e., once you're no longer new business, you're just another jerk on the low-priority list, with nowhere else to go. Lawsuits? Sure, but they'll never replace the lost time, money, and resources of tens of thousands over a period of years.

notconcerned

bridges fill gaps and bring people together - happy holidays!

DennisD

A rough estimate of days after Notice To Proceed and substantial completion is about 1000 days for a contract period of 800 some days. The city either imposes liquidated damages, or will be known by General Contracts as chumps. The city should sue for 150 days and settle at 100. It's pretty simple to determine where the failure occurred on the GC's part by looking at the manpower applied to the project on a daily basis and receipts for rental equipment. If they bid the project too low, they'd be putting their manpower on more profitable projects hoping the city would be chumps. The second place to look is where the monthly draw for work completed matches what was really done, as stated each month. I've seen projects where the GC's billing got way ahead of what was actually completed. I was on a project in Fairfax County where the GC from Spain got so far ahead of what they should have been paid, they just packed up their gear and walked off the project. County and City entities fail to aggressively hold GC's feet to the fire. In this situation, the citizens of Frederick County are the ones that suffered.

markruns50

It's really bothersome to me to listen to people make cynical criticism without even a single example of what might have been done differently. Having seen projects on building renovations that always take longer than expected because of the infinite number of things that can go wrong or not be anticipated, I can only imagine the complexity of a project of this magnitude. Projects like this are years in the making. To blame delays on the current Mayor who inherited the project at the execution phase for things that were not anticipated in the planning process is absurd. It's this kind of complaining about government that has our country in the divided state we're in. I'm happy that the project is nearing completion!

As far as the baseball field that had existed in the flood plain for decades, I would see that as one of the early casualties of climate change. Believe me, we'll be learning lessons on that for years to come in ways that are far more significant than the location of a little league. But one thing that will never change is that there will always be people who will blame it on whoever is currently in office. The better way to assess a political leader's performance is to ask, "Are they helping us to solve problems and move forward, or are they simply pointing out problems and blaming others in an attempt to make themselves appear smart?"

lewisantq

markruns50, I agree completely. Your comment is a beacon of reason and sanity. Bob Lewis

shiftless88

I do not know whom to blame because they city has been so unforthcoming with details on the causes of the delays. Of course you cannot blame the Mayor for a problem that existed before he got into office, but what did he do since he arrived in office to push this forward and explain the details to the public?

pechorin

I'll agree it's wrong to blame the current mayor for a project he inherited. But given how much seems to have gone wrong here, I think it'll be fair to blame him down the road if he doesn't at the *very* least provide a cogent explanation to the public of exactly what went wrong here, and what he's doing to make sure things like this don't happen again.

As for "cynical criticism"...I'm sorry, but when you as a large contractor accept public money for a project with this much public impact, and then run *eight months* late--and when it's obvious that very little work is getting done during prime construction season, with the project already long overdue--you'd better be prepared to listen to a lot of criticism. This is Maryland. We have weather. Milani has done projects here before. They've built bridges before. Traffic studies have (I hope) been done by the city before. There were no natural disasters during the project. Godzilla did not come along and smash the bridge halfway through. Criticism is *richly* deserved.

That Guy Garcon

I am not saying this is all the current mayor's fault. I am saying that if his comments are as unconcerned as the news post seems to be making them seem, then there is something wrong. I think the extra traffic and frustration this has caused for anyone who has had to deal with it would not just make comments like, "Lets get it open" or “I’m ecstatic that the road is opening. Our residents have waited a long time for this." No crap, 2 years of North Market being snail paced or stand still is unacceptable. It should not take 45 minutes to get from TJ High to Wegmans. But, with this road closed it did. Especially when you could have left the old bridge open while the new one was built. If Milani was incompetent in completing the job, hopefully the next bid they put in for will go to someone else even if they are the lowest bidder. I can not wait to see the difference in traffic near the schools out to 26 when this gets open.

bzkaufman

Open that bridge the very MINUTE its got the lines on it......Ribbon cutting can wait. Losing money every second it's closed....This is no time to celebrate defeat.

EABiker

Lines are there now; I think they are building something to hold the ribbon.

gdunn

No money is being lost due to this bridge being closed and a simple 4 minutes detour around it.

frankwell

O’Connor inherited this bondogal

One city screw up was forgetting the archeological dig before letting the contract.

The other was failure to secure a right of way thru the nice farmers property.

That Guy Garcon

Someones butt needs to be in the hot seat! Any other job that had this much of a delay, somebody would be out of a job. I know who will NOT be getting my vote next election. Mr. O' Connor, you make some really crazy comments about this project as if it was no big deal. "Lets get it open." Said during the public question session. “I'm ecstatic that the road is opening. Our residents have waited a long time for this,” Frederick Mayor Michael O'Connor said Friday. It really seems as if you don't care about the two years this has taken, all the traffic this has created for those two years, or the money that I am sure is lost. I am just anxious to see which project you all decide to take on next and all the headaches it will cause. Voting for anyone but the present mayor next election, this includes Jennifer [rolleyes]

CapitanoZanetti

I'm voting for a new Mayor. I want a new planning department. STOP BUILDING BASEBALL FIELDS IN FLOOD ZONES !!!! CITY OF FREDERICK !!! Stop

markers104

Frederick definitely does need a new mayor, What do mean by building baseball fields in flood zones?

DennisD

2 things. Flood zones will need to be continuously updated every few years, because sea lever rise backs up rivers as well. My opinion is that baseball fields are good use of flood zones, as long as they are not part of organized leagues. They flood, they drain, they dry out.....play ball.

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