Failure to complete Owl Creek could be costly to contractor |

Failure to complete Owl Creek could be costly to contractor

Jeremy Heiman

Pitkin County’s legal experts are preparing to take action against a road contractor who failed to pave a stretch of Owl Creek Road before winter.

The county’s contract with Englewood-based Sema Construction Co. called for the paving to be completed by Nov. 1, but the work was not done before winter weather brought a halt to the project. According to the contract, Sema could face penalties of $1,000 per day until the job can be finished – which probably won’t be until this spring.

County officials contend it was not a weather problem that caused the halt, and that the contractor had sufficient time to complete the work.

“What we encountered with them was really a performance issue,” said Stan Berryman, the county’s director of public works.

However, Berryman said the county attorney’s office will try to work out an agreement with the contractor, rather than taking legal action.

Sema is also the contractor on the segment of Highway 82 currently under construction adjacent to the Aspen Airport. The contractor has wrapped up work for the season on that project, too.

Berryman said perhaps the contractor concentrated more heavily on the Highway 82 project than on Owl Creek, thinking the highway was more important. Nevertheless, he said, the contract for the Owl Creek job should have been fulfilled.

“From where I sit, it didn’t seem like they put a great deal of effort into finishing Owl Creek,” Berryman said.

Ted Laudick, vice president of Sema, said he was aware of the situation, but refused to comment or provide further information.

“It doesn’t help Sema in any way to comment,” Laudick said. He said Sema has no complaint with Pitkin County.

The contract was signed Aug. 24, and work started right after Labor Day, Berryman said. Sema was to rebuild one and one-half miles of the road, including regrading, road base work, culverts and asphalt paving. The company completed everything except the asphalt overlay.

Berryman said that even though the work hasn’t been finished, the road is safer than before because the hills are less steep and visibility is better.

If there’s any damage to the road base over the winter, Berryman said, the repair work will be Sema’s responsibility.

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