When New Construction Inc. shut down operations on Phase 3 of the Ox Road widening project, Clifton mayor Jim Chesley was sitting in a traffic jam on southbound Ox Road and noticed the lack of activity. What he didn't realize was that New Construction was halting operations.
"I noticed it started to slow down," Chesley said.
Even though Ox Road is east of Clifton, it is one of the main roads that Clifton citizens use.
"Everything over there does affect us," Chesley said.
New Construction was unable to continue construction, and the final section of the project was assumed by New Construction's surety company, Centennial Insurance They are responsible to finish the project. Centennial is a subsidiary of Atlantic Mutual.
"New Construction defaulted on the contract," said Ryan Hall, Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) spokesperson.
"The contractor themselves are insured and bonded. The insurance company eats the cost, not the taxpayers," Hall said.
The size of the project was out of VDOT’S range to take over building operations, so on March 17, a representative from VDOT, Centennial and seven contractors are touring the sight as part of the bid process.
"Reps will be there with VDOT examining the paperwork. Hopefully the project will start back up in May," Hall said.
Any cost to the contractor over the original contract price will be paid by Centennial, Hall said. For three months, the project sat idle, but Hall doesn't think it will affect the completion date.
"They lost the winter months basically, so it won't delay it too much," Hall said.
SUPERVISOR ELAINE McCONNELL (R-Springfield) HAS pushed for the widening of Ox Road through the years and searched for solutions when the company "went belly up," she said.
"That's the last piece," McConnell said. "That's what is so critical."
Chesley's attitude was the same. Recently, VDOT counted 12,000 to 13,000 cars cutting through Clifton. The Ox Road widening will provide some relief.
"I want to see it done," Chesley said. "It has to be done. It's taken so long to get to this point."
Phase 3 of the project is 1.9 miles from North Davis Road to Route 722. It was priced at $14.6 million for construction only and awarded to New Construction Inc. of Vienna, Va., in May 2003. The final phase is the 0.6-mile bridge across the Occoquan River. Construction started on that as well, but the contractor was hired by Prince William County. It's crucial that Phase 3 and the new bridge are complete in the same time frame to prevent a traffic bottleneck.
"We have to have that part done," McConnell said.