Company threatens to sue Rockland in dispute over payment for sewer project

Posted May 22, 2012, at 5:13 p.m.
Last modified May 22, 2012, at 5:51 p.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — The construction company performing a $2.5 million downtown sewer upgrade project has informed Rockland that it will sue the city, claiming the firm has not been paid for additional work that was needed.

The lawsuit on behalf of Harold Warren Construction of Chelsea was served on the city this week even as the company continues to work on the project that is expected to be completed by the end of June.

The lawsuit states that in July 2011, shortly after work began, the company found 14 unidentified water service lines along Pleasant Street that had not been shown with reasonable accuracy in contract documents signed by the city and the construction company.

In September 2011, the company also found substantial ledge on Main Street and previously undisclosed utility services which significantly slowed the work and caused an increase in costs. The ledge was different from what was shown on the contract documents, according to Warren Construction.

In November 2011, according to the lawsuit, the company also found previously unidentified electrical and fiber optic lines and water mains at the intersection of Limerock and Union streets.

The company claims it gave notice to the city and its engineer that changes were needed and that more money would be required.

The city has failed to pay the company and this constitutes a breach of the contract, according to the lawsuit. Warren Construction is represented by the law firm Bernstein Shur in Augusta.

When construction ceased for the season in November, then interim city manager Tom Luttrell said someone — either the contractor or the city’s engineer firm — should have known about the lines at the Limerock/Union intersection. The city council held a closed-door meeting with its attorney earlier this year to discuss the legal issues concerning the allegations and extra costs.

The city’s engineer for the project is Wright Pierce.

City Attorney Kevin Beal said the city has recommended that the disputed costs go to a mediator.

The added costs amounted to $231,637, according to the city. This exceeds the $200,000 contingency in the $2.5 million project. Rockland received a $2.25 million low-interest loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and a $261,5000 grant from the USDA to complete the project.

The lawsuit does not state how much money the company claims it is owed. The company also is seeking unspecified monetary penalties, interest, and attorney fees.

The work this year began a month ago and will continue through June, west of Union Street.

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