Chesterfield widening project is ‘slowest thing I’ve ever seen,’ man says

Posted at 5:17 PM, Jan 03, 2020

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- The site of Bulldozers digging appears to signify progress here on Lucks Lane, but nothing about this $19 million Chesterfield road widening project feels like forward movement to Harry Cornfield.

"It's just the slowest thing I've ever seen," Cornfield said.

The county hired contractor Fielder's Choice Enterprises to turn a stretch of Lucks Lane from two to four lanes all the way back in November of 2017.

It was supposed to be done by August of 2019.

"Right now it looks like the project will be done by the end of 2020," Jesse Smith, Chesterfield County's Deputy County Administrator for Community Development, said.

"I think that's just unacceptable," Cornfield said.

Smith, who used to head transportation in the county up until a few months ago, blames the contractor for the massive delay.

"Have they just not been coming out there and doing the work?" CBS 6 reporter Melissa Hipolit asked.

"They've had to perform work multiple times," Smith replied. "They have not always had folks on the job."

Smith said the county hired consultants to do construction engineering and inspections on the project, and, at times, they've had to pay them for doing nothing.

"There are times where there has been nothing for them to watch and nothing for them to inspect," Smith said.

"And yet the county has been paying them?" Hipolit asked.

"We do," Smith said.

Deputy County Administrator for Community Development Jesse Smith,

Deputy County Administrator for Community Development Jesse Smith,

Still, Smith said the county's contract terms mean the county will not lose money on the deal.

"A thousand dollars per day that the contractor loses for every day they are behind on the completion date," Smith said.

At this point, that's roughly $150,000, and Cornfield worries that the contractor may end up pulling out altogether.

"That's gonna be a lot of money. Can that contractor, can it bare it? I don't know. Are they going to be able to finish?" Cornfield asked.

He hopes the county will never work with Fielder's Choice again, but Smith said that's not something they can legally do.

"Will the county use this contractor again?" Hipolit asked.

"We go through competitive procurement processes. We will put out an invitation for bid, and here at the county we use the low bid," Smith said.

Lucks Lane widening project

Lucks Lane widening project

WTVR CBS 6 has learned VDOT temporarily disqualified Fielder's Choice Enterprises from bidding on any VDOT projects for 90 days due to poor performance on a bridge replacement over the North Anna River.

Melissa Hipolit called and emailed the company, but she has not heard back.



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