When you’re inching past orange construction cones, cursing the traffic gods and wondering when, on earth, this latest project will be done, keep this in mind: Nearly 90 percent of construction jobs on Iowa’s highways and interstates are done on time or early.
From 2004 to 2011, the Iowa Department of Transportation completed more than 2,600 construction projects on nearly 9,400 miles of highways. Of those projects, 87.3 percent were completed on time or early and 11.6 percent were delayed. Some projects from 2004-2006 did not have data.
When road projects are late, the DOT fines contractors for each day past the deadline.
The DOT levied more than $450,000 in penalties for delayed projects in 2011, up 25 percent from 2010. Fines have been up and down over the years, totaling $2.88 million from 2004-2011.
The DOT occasionally offers bonuses for jobs finished early.
The median length of time for a DOT road project from 2004 to 2011 was 80 percent of the days allowed for the job. The fastest project was a bridge deck replacement with 85 allowable days that contractors completed in two days. The slowest project, a pavement markings contract bid to All-Iowa Contracting of Waterloo, was supposed to be done in a month, but took 166 days.
“There were many problems with materials that were used, resulting in low reflectivity which required rework and delays in completion,” said John Smythe, DOT office of construction director.
Dick Refshauge, who owns All-Iowa Contracting, could not be reached for comment.
Sometimes the DOT gives road crews more time without penalty — if the contractor can show the scope of the project changed.
This is what happened with two ramps at the Interstate 80/380 interchange earlier this summer. Work on the ramps was supposed to be done in mid-July, but crews discovered additional concrete that needed to be removed as part of the project.
The DOT agreed to additional days and the cloverleaf reopened in early August. The entire I-380 project was completed last week – just in time for the University of Iowa’s first home football game this weekend.
Source: Iowa Department of Transportation; curated by Erin Jordan, Terry Coyle and Jim Riley, The Gazette