Monday, June 16, 2008

The Bridge Project to Nowhere

For those of you who regularly need to travel Telegraph Road between Ford Road and Joy in north Dearborn Heights, you may be wondering what’s taking so long to finish the bridge reconstruction over Edward Hines Drive. Workers have been at this since early 2007.

Or rather, they started in early 2007, and have been moving at a snail’s pace since then. The Dearborn Heights PD are regularly ticketing drivers for forgetting about the 35 MPH construction zone posting, an easy thing to do when most of the time there’s not a hard hat in sight.

This whole thing has dragged on so long, the Dearborn Heights City Council just had to pass a resolution demanding MDOT finish the project, or else they’ll stop making payments. (“City wants Telegraph Road work finished”).

Dan’s Excavating has its name on a lot of the equipment parked in the middle of what used to be Telegraph Road. On Sunday the Detroit Free Press reported that Dan’s, along with Ajax Paving, ran into some legal problems for the way they handled their bidding on runway work at the huge boondoggle known around here as Metro Airport. It seems they “misrepresented the amount of minority work of a third company, which did little more than minor administrative tasks,” according to the U.S. Justice Department. (“Scandal hits new terminal”).

Oopsie. Yet this kind of thing, we’re told, is standard operating procedure when huge government contracts are involved. Ajax and Dan’s Excavating paid almost $12 million to settle things.

Which is the kind of behavior that would prove, at least to my satisfaction, that the people running Dan’s Excavating are crooks. But that’s no reason to doubt Dan’s demonstrated ability to handle rebuilding and repaving a pair of overpasses–especially modest spans of a scale that wouldn't exactly qualify for “skyway” status.

I say again, I’m very sure Dan’s Excavating is more than capable of finishing the job. Yet it's almost as if, as with most contractors, it’s not the skill that’s at issue, but the motivation.

(MDOT explains the delay by saying it was a cold winter (!), and engineers found the old bridges’ beams were more rotted out than expected. Which would be daunting problems indeed for a guy like me to solve; but then I’m not a large scale bridge and highway construction company being paid millions in state funds to solve them. Could something like that really halt an outfit that brags “Project Size Doesn’t Matter”?)

More than likely, Dan’s got his crews busy on some more lucrative project, and they’ll finish the Dearborn Heights project when they’re damned good and ready.

Meanwhile, watch out for those cops.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My dad got a ticket there over the winter. He was going 45mph without a hardhat in sight.