An audit of the construction debacle on I-84 in Greater Waterbury “confirms that contractor L.G. DeFelice and inspector contractor Maguire failed to discharge their duties in the most basic ways,” Gov. M. Jodi Rell said in a press release issued late Friday afternoon.
Democratic legislators urged Rell to release the report Thursday.
Sen. Donald DeFronzo, chairman of the Transportation Committee said Thursday that the governor’s office was sitting on the report because of the report’s “negative nature.”
The report concluded the 3.5 mile project was built with major flaws in the drainage systems that were not documented by the contractor hired to inspect the work. The report also found that when disputes between the Department of Transportation and contractor arose they were settled in favor of the contractor. In addition DOT documentation did not provide a “clear auditable trail for major decision making.”
“This report confirms serious problems with privatizing core governmental functions such as protecting the safety of the public. DOT and the contractors to whom the work was privatized failed miserably,” Sen. President Donald Williams said Friday.
“This project is the poster child for why the taxpayers need privatization protections as suggested by the independent State Auditors of Public Accounts,” Williams said.
On page 58 of the report auditors found that the flaws in the project resulted in a “significant amount of nonconforming work and a large percentage of change orders.” The change orders totaled $13.4 million, or 26 percent of the total contract value.
While the change orders appeared to follow the correct procedures, “it did not reflect an overall review of the impact of decisions made early in the project.” In addition, when the DOT “faced issues that could have gone against the contractor, they appeared to be decided in the contractor’s favor.”
In 2002 the contractor sent a letter of complaint to the DOT regarding Maguire Group’s chief inspector, Peter Pardee. The contractor, L.G. DeFelice asked that Pardee be removed from the job after he pointed out violations of the contract. The disagreement lead to Pardee remaining in the field office, instead of the field. The auditors found through interviews that “the intent of the agreement was not to restrict Pardee from going out into the field, but to facilitate the progress of the work.” The man who replaced him, William Fritz, was not qualified for the position.
During the course of the project Fritz misrepresented his qualifications that Maquire submitted to the DOT in order to increase his salary. “This left a Maguire Group employee in direct control of inspection that did not meet the requirements of the job and was misrepresented as doing so.”
As for the defective storm drains along the 3.5 mile stretch of highway, the auditors found “the the contractor was purposefuly constructing them with no regard for their structural integrity, functionality, or adherence to the contract documents.”
The contractor L.G. DeFelice has reformed as Hallberg and is still working for the state on other projects including one on Route 7.
Back in March CTNewsjunkie did some digging into the situation and confirmed that Hallberg has been hired as a subcontractor by a performance bond company doing work on Route 7. DOT spokesman Kevin Nursick said in March that it’s the performance bond company that re-hired Hallberg to finish the job.
He said this traditionally happens because a company has already started a project and it may be easier for the bond company to hire the contractor that started the work because it has all its equipment on site.