Dispute over 71st and Yale construction project

Tuesday, February 7th 2006, 6:00 am
By: News On 6

There's a construction delay on a big road project on Yale in Tulsa. The city is widening it from 71st down to 81st, but the company doing the job has run into problems.

News on 6 reporter Emory Bryan says the city says it's the phone company that caused the delay.

The $10-million expansion of Yale Avenue is a major project for the city - and a major headache for drivers. It started last spring and was supposed to be done by now. The city says the problems started when the main contractor - Sherwood Construction - found a phone cable that wasn't where it was supposed to be.

Albert Martinez with the City of Tulsa: "A lot of our conflicts out there are because of Southwestern Bell and each time there's a conflict, it slows down the whole production." There are other utilities that had to be moved, including a major power line, and water and sewer lines, but that phone cable stopped everything.

The city has inspectors on the work site and city staff blames the phone company, but it's Sherwood that's on the hook for a penalty of at least $8,000 a day.

Sherwood is still on the job, but the company refused to talk with us about the delays on the project. They've asked the city for 40 extra days to get the job done. That would amount to more than $300,000 in penalties - that the city council doesn't want to forgive. They believe Sherwood could have done more - but instead was focused on another job on US Highway 75. It was done ahead of schedule, and earned Sherwood a half million dollar bonus from the state. Tulsa city councilor Randy Sullivan: "I think there was a conscious decision to re-deploy manpower to the state of Oklahoma, and until someone tells me different, because we saw this coming."

Albert Martinez: "They're feeling that the contractor didn't put diligent effort but the contractor did, and he was stopped, mainly because utilities were in the way."