Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Tab Grew 29% for Road Work

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Tab Grew 29% for Road Work

Article excerpt

The Passaic County freeholders in 2010 allocated more than $9 million in federal funds to repave 48 miles of battered roads, giving motorists a break and the construction industry a needed boost in the depths of a recession.

County officials divided the massive public works project into 11 separate contracts and put them out to bid. A dozen companies bid on the projects, but in the end it was two big players -- Smith-Sondy Asphalt of Wallington and Tilcon-NY - that walked away with all the jobs after submitting bids that in some cases were hundreds of thousands of dollars below Passaic County's estimate.

Six years later, Passaic County has just finished paying for one of those contracts -- at nearly $700,000 above the winning bid.

Last week, the freeholders awarded Smith-Sondy Asphalt an additional $109,488, for work done on the Mid-County Roadway Resurfacing project that included Haledon, Little Falls, Paterson, Totowa and Wayne. The increase, which was primarily for additional work on manhole covers, pushed the final cost of the contract to $3,004,972, about 29 percent more than the original bid of $2,324,169.

The project was scheduled to be complete on Nov. 17, 2012. But the final change order wasn't submitted until last month -- more than three years later. The freeholders' Public Works Committee approved the change order on Feb. 22, according to county records.

Freeholder Bruce James, the head of the Public Works Committee, could not explain what went wrong with the project. But he said it's not uncommon for road crews to begin digging to fix one problem, and then discover numerous other things that need fixing.

"There was extensive work that had to be done with the manhole covers as part of the resurfacing," James said. "As they went through the ground, they found stuff underground that had to be fixed. …

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