Road Builders Sue MDOT

April 30, 2002
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LANSING — Four road-building trade groups filed a lawsuit late last week against the Michigan Department of Transportation to stop a pair of upcoming state highway projects from being awarded because both contain new performance warranties.

The Michigan Road Builders Association, the Associated Underground Contractors, the Michigan Concrete Paving Association and the Michigan Pavement Association filed the injunction on behalf of their members in Ingham County Circuit Court on Thursday.

The new performance warranties require contractors to repair any problem not related to normal wear and tear. But the associations don’t feel that builders should be held responsible for glitches in design, engineering and other aspects of the work they don’t perform.

“We have no problem backing our work, yet this new performance warranty requires that contractors guarantee aspects of a project that are not under their control,” said Tony Milo, MRBA executive vice president.

The opening of bids for work on I-94 in Macomb County and on U.S. 24 in metro Detroit was held on Friday. MDOT will likely award the projects in 30 to 45 days. The I-94 project has a seven-year warranty, while the U.S. 24 work has one that would last for five years.

“We’re looking to put warranties on so we can protect the investment that we are making for everyone. We want contractors to stand behind their work,” said MDOT spokesman Ari Adler.

MRBA Director of Government and Public Relations Gary Naeyaert said the coalition tried to get the new warranties pulled from the jobs at the bid openings, but failed.

“We were not successful in having the performance warranty specifications removed from the projects prior to the opening of the bids,” said Naeyaert. “We will still be trying to get the performance warranty specifications removed from the projects prior to the awarding of the contracts.”

Patrick Isom, an attorney in the transportation division of the Attorney General’s office, is representing MDOT in the case. Butzel Long of Lansing is representing the trade groups.

The Michigan Asphalt Paving Association is not taking part in the legal action against the state.

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