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Contractor Fined $235,000 for TZ Bridge Traffic Mess

Construction company sees penalty for not opening lanes in time for rush hours, causing delays.

An independent construction company carrying out Tappan Zee Bridge deck replacement was slapped with a $235,000 fine from New York State after Tuesday morning work delays, and consequent traffic.

The deck replacement effort—which swaps in needed upgrades on the deteriorating span—requires lane closures during late-night and early-morning weekday hours.

The construction company, Tutor Perini Corp., is supposed to have all lanes re-opened by 6 a.m. for the rush hour traffic.

But a handful of southbound and northbound lanes did not open Tuesday morning until 7 a.m. or later, causing massive congestion.

Tutor Peini Corp. was fined $1,000 per lane per minute for the delays, officials told Patch.

In addition to a legion of miffed commuters, local politicians spoke out, calling for heightened fines.

"It is an outrage that construction contractors on the Tappan Zee Bridge continue to break morning work deadlines that cause massive travel delays," said Sen. David Carlucci (D-Rockland/Westchester) Monday. "Their failure to ensure that lanes were reopened on time has placed an undue burden on thousands of residents who cross the span every day."

"When commuters are stuck in traffic, it hurts our economy, impacts our quality of life and damages our environment," he added.

Carlucci also called for a $10,000 per-minute fine in lieu of the existing $1,000 per-minute fine.

Tutor Peini Corp. was awarded the $148.8 million Tappan Zee Bridge deck replacement contract in August of 2006.

Construction on a new Tappan Zee Bridge is slated to begin in the next several months, and cost taxpayers about $16 billion.

joan December 04, 2012 at 11:36 PM
This is a little consolation for sitting in that mess this morning. Glad to see something was done.
Mike Bruen December 04, 2012 at 11:39 PM
Good, contractors need to held accountable. I believe the fine should br larger.
Stephen J. Reich December 05, 2012 at 12:03 AM
I am not necessarily against the fine. But I think it should be investigated as to whether or not there was a valid excuse for the delay. The logistics on that project are immense. I believe Tutor-Perini's record has been good as far as keeping traffic flowing over the 4 years that project has been on going. Maybe benefit of the doubt is in order.
Phil December 05, 2012 at 12:26 AM
on a $148m contract $235k seems like a nickel on a dollar to me and this has been in progress for 6 years, maybe some other form of penalty is required.
Jen wood December 05, 2012 at 12:41 AM
This has happened multiple times since sept. there is no valid excuse.
Voice of Reason December 05, 2012 at 12:47 AM
So, let me get this straight... They are replacing the deck on the old bridge. I have paperwork showing that the pilings are fine. We know that the bridge is constantly being re-painted and rust-proofed They are repairing the beams that hold the new deck. Why do we need a new bridge?????? Why do we have to pay 16 billion dollars for a new bridge when the old one will be just like new when they are finished????????
AJ December 05, 2012 at 02:29 AM
The traffic this morning was CRAZY! This should never happen. The very people who are paying for this construction are CONSTANTLY subjected to gridlock on this bridge. I'm glad the contractors are being held accountable for thier lack of consideration and time management on this project!
EJM December 05, 2012 at 02:41 AM
I agree that they should have lanes open, but if they are fined will the contractors now rush the work over night to have lane open and then the work is not done safely causing more problems then just traffic?
Pat Godfrey December 05, 2012 at 02:48 AM
The reason they are building a new bridge and upgrading the old bridge is unions. They give there money to the democrats and then the democrats give them government contracts. So much so that they can delay traffic, get slapped on the wrist. Then they have 16 billion allocated for another bridge at the same time. Good to be in the union.
Rob December 05, 2012 at 03:04 AM
I'm confused....Why invest 148 million when the bridge is going to be torn down....I'm really confused...
Mark Walker December 05, 2012 at 03:35 AM
They are getting off cheap.
Richard Kavesh December 05, 2012 at 03:49 AM
You are right that the only reason TZII is being built is that it is a jobs program. It will do nothing to alleviate congestion or improve traffic flow; in that sense it will be obsolete on Day One. In terms of the fine, the $1,000 per minute per lane was probably negotiated with the contractor. I'd be surprised if the state could increase the fine unilaterally, would probably take amending the contract.
Richard Kavesh December 05, 2012 at 03:50 AM
Because as long as it's still here, it has to be as optimal as possible.
Dave Prouty December 05, 2012 at 04:35 AM
I only wish unions were that powerful. Sadly, people like you don't appreciate all the improvements in society that we owe to the labor movement - the 40-hour work week, minimum wage laws, social security, health and safety laws, family and medical leave...the list goes on and on. Without unions there wouuld be no middle class - and the decline of unions has led to a society where wealth is now concentrated more than ever in the hands of the 1%. The idea of people standing together to improve their common lot, not for individual gain but for the good of everyone, is what unions are all about and I am proud to call myself a lifelong union member.
Lynn Teger December 05, 2012 at 10:32 AM
The State of NY is a UN Agenda 21 state. Gov. Cuomo was the secretary of HUD and was appointed to Bill Clinton's President's Council on Sustainable Development tasked with implementing Agenda 21 in this country. Cuomo is pressing hard to implement Agenda 21 in the State of NY. The allegiance of our elected officials are to the stipulations in all the grants they have taken, not to the people who elected them. The NYS Thruway is going to be the "super highway" system. The state does not even have the money to pay for it and will pay for it with loans subsidized by the taxpayer. After they are done, the tolls are expected to increase to about $30.00. This will make it unaffordable for most people and businesses to cross the bridge. The County has just announced an 18 percent tax increase. This coupled with what it will cost taxpayers to pay for the bridge will begin to squeeze out the middle class and small businesses. For those of you who understand United Nations Agenda 21 and how it is being implemented in this country, you will understand what I am talking about. If you don't know, make sure to research it.
Aintthatascam December 05, 2012 at 11:56 AM
Oh, let me get my violin Dave.
BUGSPOP December 05, 2012 at 12:05 PM
Ordinarily I would understand a delay but when (after waiting an hour at 6am) you finally get to were the work is and see the workers standing around yapping on there cell phones and drinking coffee this I have a problem with!
Karen Tarapata December 05, 2012 at 12:28 PM
I am with you, Stephen. Also - if the fines are too high, they will start wrapping up the work at 4 am and it will take even more days to finish the job.
ScreamsSilently December 05, 2012 at 12:37 PM
I work for Tutor Perini, and guess what-I get stuck in construction delays, traffic gridlock, & lane closures just like the rest of you during my commute. Does it make me cheerful & joyous-not at all, but I realize it is a part of keeping our infrastructure up & running. Without the constant repairs & upkeep of our bridges, tunnels, & roadways many would fail government inspection & close. I see many complain about the $148 million cost of the 6-year project, but how much more complaining would be done if EVERYONE had to drive 10 miles out of your way to get to another crossing because this was unsafe to use? Of that $148 million cost, how much do you think is actually profit for a public NYSE construction company once you remove insurance & bond charges, licenses & fees, subcontractor payments, labor & benefit cost, the ever-changing price of construction materials, concrete, & fuel, the running of the contractor & NYS field offices for the duration of the project? Most projects are considered a success if they profit 1-4%...you do the math. Do anyone honestly think that if ANY company was fined $10k per minute delayed opening-which could have been due to a safety issue, accident or injury-they wouldn't have included the possible cost of such an obscene fine in the bid price? Things are bound to happen unexpectedly, that's just a part of life...take it with a grain of salt, enjoy the beautiful morning, the scenery, and go with the not-so-fast flow of traffic. I do daily!
NB December 05, 2012 at 01:10 PM
Would you get a grip "ScreamsSilently"? People are not able to "enjoy the beautiful morning" when they are worried about getting to work on time so they don't get fired. Not every company is OK with employees coming in EXCEPTIONALLY late to work. A 3 hr wait in inexcusable period. We commuters deal with delays every single day on this route, but no one has the patience for what happened yesterday and nor should they.
brian December 05, 2012 at 01:24 PM
how about waiving tolls for the commuters and having the guilty construction firm(s) causing the delays pay the toll bills instead? at least then the affected commuter gets a break on paying the toll after being inconvenienced
Meryl December 05, 2012 at 01:45 PM
I am totally in agreement with fining the construction company for the delays yesterday. This has happened repeatedly and will continue to happen unless there are serious consequences. Thousand of people were late (very late) to work, some may have even lost their jobs, a huge amount of gasoline was wasted, people have health issues, need to go the bathroom, have high blood pressure, businesses lose money by workers not being there, and on and on. Enjoy the scenery! Are you kidding?
Lynn Teger December 05, 2012 at 02:06 PM
http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/public_private_poppycock_Y1C0QYyVj2MOsAS1cheOzH http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5h62lSGK4Y8
GBS December 05, 2012 at 03:20 PM
All contracts should be honored and firmly enforced. If a party is inclined to reopen a contract - it's always their perogative, however a willingness on behalf of the other party is necessary. If not, legal suits emerge and little real time benefits occur. I believe the consequences of failure to comply with the contract will felt by contractor. Hence, my opinion on their likely fine advoidance strategy to possibly curtail restoration work hours before the 6am clear time. "One should never undertake an activity you can't complete by 4am". Depending on which New Tappan Zee Bridge plan you review, the current bridge is the option for the next 5+ years. Letting it fall into the Hudson in the intrim might not be prudent. From my readings, unless there are 20 mile out plans for volume on either side, I don't personally understand the plan. While the plan is on the Federal & State agenda I believe inclusion of more comprehensive strategy might be considered. Reading of light rail successes across the country are eye opening. It should be included. Day one. Hence, under the current plan I believe the new bridge will be obselete - again: day one. While I understand the concept of "you have to start somewhere", picemealing public works projects is difficult. Most never reach fruition. We need a new bridge, let's all get together to be sure it's one that endures like that little thing spanning Brooklyn-Manhattan...
Kevin Zawacki (Editor) December 05, 2012 at 06:39 PM
Joan, how long were you stuck in traffic?
Kevin Zawacki (Editor) December 05, 2012 at 06:40 PM
Sen. David Carlucci wants $10,000 per minute -- too much, or just right?
Dana December 05, 2012 at 07:07 PM
Taxpayers are ultimately paying this fine. Taxes fund these projects, so when construction projects take more time to be completed we'll be the ones paying for that.
Jimmy December 06, 2012 at 04:05 PM
Late for work is better than dead. Next time open up the bridge on time, the hell with safety. People will never learn.

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