UDOT questioned over $13 million payment

Agency decided to compensate No. 2 bidder for I-15 rebuild

News The Salt Lake Tribune September 21, 2010
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The Utah Department of Transportation’s decision to cut a check is receiving some sharp criticism.

UDOT decided to pay FSZ, a consortium of Flatiron/Skanska/Zachry, a $13 million settlement after the contractor finished second in the bidding for an I-15 rebuild project in Utah County. UDOT Executive Director John Njord agreed to make the payment because even though he believes the state would have won if the case went to trial, the cost in terms of project delays would have been much higher. He has since apologized for not notifying Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and the state legislator prior to making payment.

FSZ claims UDOT made “adjustments” to the project, which cost the contractor the $1.1 billion job. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Peter Corroon stirred the pot further when he questioned whether FSZ lost the contract to Provo River Constructors because that company had made over $87,000 in political contributions to Herbert.

State Rep. Neil Hansen is still asking for the financial maneuver to be audited.

“It is part of my responsibility to look out for the best interests of citizens and their tax dollars,” he said. “When you have someone who writes a check for $13 million without oversight by the legislature or the governor, we need to call for accountability.”

That call, however, might not be processed for some time to come. Senate President Mike Waddoups, who sits on the four-person committee that determines which audits to approve, believes the issue has been thoroughly explained by UDOT.

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