DeVere Construction walks off four NDOT projects in contract dispute

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A dispute between a contractor and the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) has resulted in work stopping on four projects in the state.

Michigan-based DeVere Construction Co. Inc. “has demobilized its forces from a number of NCDOT projects pending resolution of sizeable claims and the release of substantial contract balances currently withheld by the North Carolina Department of Transportation,” Richard Crittenden, DeVere’s president, said in a written statement.

DeVere Construction Co., Inc., a Michigan based general contractor with a regional office in Raleigh, NC, has demobilized its forces from a number of NCDOT Projects pending resolution of sizeable claims and the release of substantial contract balances currently withheld by the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

“We are a second generation, family owned construction company and are proud of our work. The decision to demobilize was not easy one, but there is a limit to our patience. The NCDOT claim process is broken. I fully anticipate DeVere Construction will prevail and recover the monies properly due and owing by the NCDOT. Beyond that, I do not believe it would be appropriate to comment at this time.” said Richard Crittenden, president of DeVere Construction Co., Inc. The company is actively completing other projects and appreciates the cooperation of the other parties involved that work.

The NDDOT, meanwhile, notified DeVere officials Feb. 8 that the company is in default of the contract, a NCDOT official was quoted as saying in the Charlotte Observer.

Crittended declined to say how much DeVere contends it is owed because he said the matter would likely end up in court.

The NCDOT says DeVere Construction must do the required work “under the schedule specified in its contract with the department. And there can be financial consequences if the company fails to meet its contracted obligations.”

NCDOT plans to require DeVere’s bonding company, Liberty Mutual, to arrange for completion of the project, spokesperson Jordan-Ashley Baker’s email to The Observer said.

DeVere started the $100 million plus project  to widen Independence Ave. in Charlotte in April 2013 and was expected to complete the project by October 2016, Baker said. Finishes such as landscaping and tree replacement work were scheduled to be completed by April 2017.

Other projects affected include the recently opened Rolesville Bypass in Wake County and other road and bridge projects in Western North Carolina, according to Raleigh The News & Observer.

NCDOT reprimanded DeVere earlier this year for taking too long to complete the Rolesville Bypass, the News & Observer reported. It took just over four years to complete the five-mile road.

NCDOT officials told DeVere the company could not place a bid for any new state projects until the Rolesville Bypass was completed, The News & Observer report said.

Baker confirmed to The Charlotte Observer that DeVere was barred from bidding on new state projects in summer 2014. That move was taken to allow the company to focus on contracts that it already had been awarded, including the Independence Blvd. project.

“The reason for the biding ban was unsatisfactory construction progress,” Baker told The Observer.

Devere has six current projects with the state, Baker said. Two are close to being completed. The others are one in Jackson County, one in Buncombe County and two in Mecklenburg County.

There have been at least seven suits, liens or judgements relating to contracts since 2014. “One judgment was paid, a suit was vacated and a lien was canceled,” The Observer reported. “A claim of lien was noted as ‘cancellation of lien by cash bond,’ public records indicate.”

In the other cases public records indicate one judgment remains unpaid, one company has requested a mediated settlement and one suit is pending.

The state’s most recent Independence Ave. widening project will convert a roughly 1.6 mile stretch between Albemarle Rd. and Wallace Ln. in east Charlotte to an eight-lane freeway. The $100-million-plus project will provide relief from present and future congestion and improve efficiency.

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