By Hank Kita, STA Executive Director
There is a cautionary tale for contractors big and small developing very close to home. That cautionary tale has to do with the construction of the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge during the recent administration of Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Tappan Zee Constructors (TZC), a design-build consortium, earlier this year filed suit against the New York State Thruway Authority seeking almost $1 billion. That’s right… $1billion! The TZC consortium consists of industry giants Fluor, American Bridge, Traylor Brothers, and Granite Construction.
The TZC lawsuit accuses the Thruway Authority of not covering cost overruns that were incurred as a result of bad weather, a 2016 crane collapse, and interference from another design-build team. In addition, the TZC consortium has laid blame for its nearly $1 billion in cost overruns on interference from Governor Cuomo on the project via the Thruway Authority by changing agreed upon design plans that delayed the project and then drove up costs.
With Cuomo out as Governor, the TZC consortium has now appealed to his successor, Governor Kathy Hochul to resolve the lawsuit. According to a recent appeal made to Governor Hochul by the consortium, the former Governor’s (Cuomo) behavior “has significantly reduced the likelihood of TZC and its member companies working in New York State in the future, and multiple companies within our membership explicitly have no current plans to work in New York until this matter is resolved in a satisfactory manner.”
This lawsuit should if nothing else raise the awareness of not only STA members, but all contractors regarding requests for expedited schedules or changes in project scope without full documentation of the request by public agencies. My office has seen over these past eight years, more than a few disputes between our members and public agencies because changes in scope and schedule were not properly documented.
The STA will continue to follow this situation at the Cuomo Bridge and keep you our members updated on the outcome of any associated settlement or court rulings related to this lawsuit. In the meantime, be aware of your contract specifications and seek written documentation to project scope changes at all turns.