Commissioners might opt to sue state

BROWNSTOWN

The contractor that has walked away from a project to renovate the Shieldstown Covered Bridge has incurred more than $42,000 in fines from the state and could wind up being kicked off the project if county commissioners have their way.

“I think we have given them enough time,” Jackson County Commissioners President Matt Reedy said during a meeting Tuesday night at the courthouse annex.

Reedy was referring to Duncan Robertson Inc. of Franklin. That company moved most of its equipment from the site of the bridge along County Road 200N in Hamilton Township between Seymour and Brownstown earlier this year.

The 355-foot-long bridge, built in 1876 by Joseph J. Daniels, was added to the National Register of Historic Places on June 7.

The company was awarded a $1.1 million contract for the project in early 2015, and the work had a completion date of July 31 of this year. The work, which includes replacement of some of the wood beams and roof and replacing the joists under the bridge, is far from complete.

The company can be fined as much as $1,500 a day after the deadline unless the state grants an extension.

Project engineer Brad Isaacs, who is with Janssen and Spaans Engineering Inc. of Indianapolis, said he has been told by the state to keep track of the fines. He’s also responsible for completing paperwork related to the federal funds that are being used for the work.

Jackson County is the sponsor of the project and is paying 20 percent of the costs, while a National Historic Covered Bridge grant is funding the rest. The Indiana Department of Transportation administers federal monies and assures compliance with federal standards.

Reedy said he was recently was able to obtain documents related to a performance bond for the project and other documents related to the project from the Indiana Department of Transportation.

“We aren’t on them,” Reedy said of Jackson County.

That finding leads him to believe that the only way the project may go forward is if the county sues the state, Reedy said after the meeting.

County attorney Susan Bevers said doing that would be a lengthy process, and commissioners might want to first consider contacting their U.S. congressmen, U.S. senators and state officials.

Isaacs said Duncan Robertson continues to have issues with meeting the specifications for materials for the project.

He said he and county highway superintendent Jerry Ault along with INDOT’s project engineer, Joe Jones, recently went to inspect 28 pieces of white oak they were told the company had obtained for the project, and only five of the pieces of wood appeared to be new.

Materials obtained for the work in the past previously had been rejected by Isaacs and the state. Shingles purchased for the roof replacement part of the project don’t meet specifications, either, he said.

Isaacs said Duncan Robertson officials had filed a notice of change of conditions because of the rejection of the materials.

Officials with Indiana Landmarks, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Historical Preservation and Archaeology and the Indiana Department of Transportation’s Cultural Resources office voted 3-0 to uphold the decision by those involved in inspecting the materials, including Isaacs, to reject the materials are not meeting specifications in the contract documents, Isaacs said.

He said those agencies were responsible for obtaining 80 percent of the funding for the work and are not going to accept subpar materials.

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Aubrey Woods is editor of The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at awoods@tribtown.com or 812-523-7051.