Interchange Snafu Yields Heavy Fines

Interchange Snafu Yields Heavy Fines

VDOT levies $110,000 fine on general contractor of Springfield Interchange project.

A one-hour delay last week in construction on the Springfield Interchange project has cost the general contractor over $100,000 in fines.

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) levied a $110,000 fine on contractor Archer Western Corp., for failing to reopen all lanes of I-495 westbound on Thursday, Feb. 17, at its usual 5 a.m. deadline.

"We … have worked diligently since the inception of the project to place our customers first. The last thing we want to suffer is disruption to the rush-hour traffic," said Larry Cloyed, project manager for the eight-year, $676 million Springfield Interchange Project, which is two years away from completion.

Archer Western was working on installing two steel beams that would form a segment of the new "flyover" bridge that will take traffic from I-395 southbound to the Capital Beltway headed east toward Alexandria. The bridge, dubbed No. 627, contains two 200-foot-long, 40-ton beams, which form the bridge's superstructure. The plan was for the two beams to be raised into place by lifting cranes and secured with holding cranes until seven cross frames could be installed to secure the beams.

According to Cloyed, the project's contract stipulates that all lanes of traffic on the Inner Loop be closed, along with the ramp from I-95 North to 495, beginning with the ramp at 9:30 p.m., and all lanes at 11 p.m. This allows the cranes to hoist the giant beams up and over the lanes of traffic.

"You have to get two beams up to fully stabilize the load," said Cloyed.

The work wasn't done by the 5 a.m. deadline, and all the lanes of traffic were closed until 5:58 a.m., which according to Cloyed is a no-no. According to Cloyed, during the overnight hours, traffic was directed to a detour, but that caused problems once the traffic flow increased after 5 a.m.

"You get to 5 a.m., and you pull that bathtub plug, a detour of that nature can break down very quickly," he said.

The fines were assessed based on VDOT standards that levy heavier fines the longer a deadline has lapsed.

Cloyed said the fine is stiff, but so is the public's expectations for a smooth ride, despite the Interchange construction

"The agency's integrity, credibility with our customers and their trust in us is critical," he said.

The I-395 bridge construction is in anticipation of the opening of that bridge, a portion of Phase VI of the project, in July, along with another bridge opening in October from I-95 Northbound to the Beltway heading east to Alexandria.

<1b>— Glenn McCarty