ODOT Will Increase Fines on Contractors That Cause Traffic Jams by Not Finishing Work Before Rush Hour

[image-1] This past Wednesday morning the hellish asphalt shitshow otherwise known as I-480 became even clusterfuckier after an ODOT contractor failed to finish overnight work before the beginning of morning rush hour (by ODOT policy, that's 6 a.m.) Lanes were left blocked as the sun came up and backups, as they do, ensued.

It was the third time in the past month or so when a contractor's tardy work caused traffic jams that snaked across freeways and side streets.

Two previous instances involved Burton Scot's work downtown. This week the culprit was Kokosing Construction.

In a statement, the department said:

ODOT is frustrated by an uptick in construction companies, working by contract on behalf of our agency, continuing overnight work through the morning rush hour. This is NOT permitted under the terms of our contract.

This morning the Kokosing Construction Company kept lanes closed on I-480 near Granger Road beyond the permitted time, causing long delays for motorists. ODOT will firmly address this incident with the contractor. At this time, the fines for this morning’s infraction have not been calculated.

In order to ensure construction companies are not making these business decisions at the expense of the time and safety of the travelling public, ODOT is rolling out statewide contract standards with stiffer disincentives for contractors who keep travel lanes closed longer than allowed.

The disincentive formula, which will be applied statewide and written into new contracts moving forward, will calculate fees for each stretch of highway under construction based on the route’s traffic volume (both passenger vehicles and trucks) and the number of lanes in each direction. Higher-volume routes, such as urban interstates, will carry higher disincentives in order to ensure construction companies are not creating countless hours of travel delay in order to save money on projects. The formula will be adjusted regularly for inflation.
Increased penalties sounds nice in theory, and ODOT announced today it had come up with a number for Kokosing — $12,000. Which doesn't sound like the amount of dollars that would serve as a real deterrent.

For comparison sake, according to the Ohio Checkbook, the state paid Kokosing, annually one of the three or four biggest recipients of contracting work in the state, $245,412,251.96 in 2017.

So, yeah, we imagine things might not change.
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