Mounting

By ANTHONY WARREN,

Fines continue to increase for delay in completing airport work

Fines continue to mount for the contractor brought on to repave the west runway at the Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport.

Meanwhile, the $17.4 million project has been delayed further and now will not be completed until at least June, according to Carl Newman, chief executive officer of the Jackson Municipal Airport Authority (JMAA).

“We continue to charge liquidated damages for the project, meaning the work will not be as profitable as the contractor has envisioned,” he said.

Liquidated damages is the term used for the late fees being assessed on the project.

Superior Asphalt was hired in 2017 to mill and overlay the airport’s west runway. Work was initially slated to wrap up in July 2018. In December, Newman said the project would be delayed at least until February, and last week, he said it would be stalled until June.

Under terms of the agreement, Superior is being charged $2,500 a day for each day the project is not complete following the initial July 2018 deadline. As of February 8, Superior had amassed $457,000 in fees, Newman said.

Contractors submit invoices at various times as the project progresses. “We have staff and another contractor on board to verify the quantities of work that has been done. They get paid for that minus a retainage and liquidated damages,” Newman explained.

Retainage is an amount held back by the authority, which will be paid at the end of the contract once the work is completed.

Superior told JMAA recently that work would not wrap up until June.

The project has been delayed in part because of weather.

“We have not had great weather this winter. There have been a number of rain and weather days associated with it. That’s part of it. But the contractor is not progressing on days when they can work,” he said. “Our team has expressed that concern to them.

“They can’t explain why they’re not progressing the way they should.”

Newman said his team is working to push the project through as quickly as possible. JMAA can cancel the contract, but officials would rather Superior see the work through.

“Basically, we would put the bond company on notice that they’re not performing, and it would be up to the company to do one of two things - find a contractor to complete the work or work with JMAA to find a contractor to complete the work,” Newman said. “The big thing for the airport is to continue to press the contractor to get on with the work.” 

Officials with Superior were unavailable for comment.

 

Superior is a subsidiary of Yates Construction. The firm was chosen through the blind bid process and was chosen after submitting the lowest and best bid.

Work is being paid for with a $17.2 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and a $200,000 grant from the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT), both of which were awarded to JMAA in September 2016.

The contract includes milling and overlaying Jackson-Evers’ west runway. The 8,500-foot runway has been shut down since construction got under way.

To date, runway traffic has been only minimally impacted by the closure.

“There was a situation back in October, when we had an airplane blow a tire on the runway that was open and we could not clear it,” he said. “That would have not been an issue had the other runway been (open).

“That’s been the only complication so far. But that could have happened during the regular timeframe of the contract’s completion.”  

 

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