State picks new contractor for Independence Boulevard construction

Construction is on hold on the overpass at Idlewild Road as the state awaits replacemenet of the project’s general contractor.
Construction is on hold on the overpass at Idlewild Road as the state awaits replacemenet of the project’s general contractor. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

Lane Construction will replace DeVere Construction as general contractor for the 1.6-mile Independence Boulevard widening project in east Charlotte.

Officials from N.C. Department of Transportation will meet with officials from Lane within about a week to discuss plans for resuming work on the stalled project, according to a statement released Tuesday by the department. An exact date for putting crews back on the job was not announced.

Lane, which had been filling in on Independence as interim contractor, will also take over a $4.4 million contract to replace north and southbound bridges over Mallard Creek on North Tryon Street. The company’s work there is scheduled to be completed by Aug. 1, according to N.C. DOT’s statement.

Michigan-based DeVere walked away from the job in January, with about 67 percent of the work for its nearly $52 million contract completed. The construction zone is between Albemarle Road and Wallace Lane.

N.C. DOT found DeVere to be in default when work did not resume by a Feb. 8 deadline.

A breach of contract allowed the state to invoke a performance bond and require DeVere’s bonding company, Liberty Mutual, to replace the contractor and complete the project at no additional cost to the state, Baker said.

More than 70,000 vehicles per day travel through the area. Traffic volumes are expected to range from 77,200 to 91,000 vehicles a day by 2030.

Converting Independence is intended to provide relief from present and future congestion and improve efficiency.

The freeway conversion between uptown and Interstate 485 has been a slow project, with crews working on sections over more than 25 years.

Work on this latest stretch is scheduled to be completed in October. Landscaping and other finishing details are to be completed in April 2017.

DeVere started construction in April 2013. Ultimately, DeVere and N.C. DOT reached an impasse over pay and other terms of their contract, the general contractor and the N.C. DOT said.

DeVere, which has a Raleigh office, also stopped work the same week on three other state projects.

DeVere President Richard Crittenden declined to say how much DeVere contends it is owed. He said the matter would likely end up in court. Seventeen companies were approved as subcontractors for the job.

Karen Sullivan: 704-358-5532, @Sullivan_kms