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O.C. transit agency fines builder

Times Staff Writer

A contractor faces $450,000 in penalties for being nine days late completing the first part of a Garden Grove Freeway widening project, officials said Monday.

A preliminary agreement with the contractor, Granite-Myers-Rados, called for a $50,000-a-day penalty for work not finished by Nov. 30, 2006, an Orange County Transportation Authority spokesman said.

The contractor had unsuccessfully argued for fines of $5,000 a day.

The $500-million project to widen 12 miles of the freeway from the Costa Mesa Freeway to Magnolia Street began in 2004 amid promises it would take only 800 days using a novel approach in which the contractor does both the engineering and construction.

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But the project dragged on after a Nov. 29 ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, which Supervisor Chris Norby had called “embarrassingly premature.”

And, although the new lanes are open, construction near bridges below the freeway is incomplete and causing traffic jams on surface streets, officials said.

OCTA directors have complained they were kept in the dark on delays by OCTA staff and the contractor.

Norby said Monday that board members should have been given the truth, “not glossed-over talking points” at meetings.

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OCTA Chairwoman Carolyn Cavecche has called for an investigation to find out what happened to prevent it from occurring again.

The contractor has until Nov. 26 to complete the laying of rubberized asphalt to muffle noise along two miles of westbound lanes between Euclid and Magnolia streets in Garden Grove.

If the work isn’t done by then, the company could be assessed more penalties.

The company contended the delays were caused by rebuilding the Magnolia Street overpass, which was added to the project after it had begun.

However, there were other construction delays not connected with the Magnolia bridge work, OCTA board members said.

david.reyes@latimes.com


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