Nevada ends bridge contract with firm |

Nevada ends bridge contract with firm

Brendan Riley

CARSON CITY (AP) – A state panel agreed Tuesday to cancel an $80 million contract for a 1,719-foot-long freeway bridge – one of the largest structures of its type in the country – after builders expressed construction safety concerns.

The state Transportation Board agreed to end the contract with Wisconsin-based Edward Kraemer & Sons. Gov. Kenny Guinn, who chairs the panel, told the state Department of Transportation to quickly line up a new contractor for the northern Nevada project.

The bridge that will span Galena Creek 300 feet below is one of four bridges that are part of a freeway project between Carson City and Reno. The state hopes to have the entire project done by 2009, although the bridge already is more than a year behind schedule.

Kraemer & Sons completed most of the work on the other bridges, and has been paid $46 million. But NDOT Director Jeff Fontaine said the company was concerned that high winds could create problems in placement of an arched steel truss across Galena Creek.

Fontaine added that NDOT experts believe the arch can be installed safely regardless of wind conditions. While the structure may have been “overly designed,” Fontaine said the stability and safety of the bridge once it’s completed has “never been in question.”

Under an agreement between Kraemer & Sons and the state, the company will get another $3.6 million for work already done or nearly completed. The firm had tried to get $14 million.

Fontaine said the state will be protected from potential lawsuits that might develop, and subcontractors who worked for Kraemer & Sons also will be protected.

State Attorney General George Chanos, a Transportation Board member, said he had some misgivings about the terms of the agreement, but moved for its approval after expressing concern about soaring costs that could result as part of “the economics of delay.”

Representatives of the company didn’t comment at the Transportation Board meeting. Michael Fischer, vice president and chief operating officer of the firm’s construction division, has issued a statement saying “the best path is for Edward Kraemer & Sons to wrap up our work.”

The bridge is part of a $300 million project to build a six-lane I-580 freeway section, expected to handle 40,000 cars per day, that would bypass U.S. 395’s current route through Pleasant Valley, a high accident location.

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