Embattled paver wins $45 million in state road work

By Staff | June 29, 2010

The Quinlan Law Firm in the news: Stories of successful Quinlan Law Firm clients.
Published at azcentral.com, June 29, 2010

Embattled paver wins $45 million in state road work

by Emily Gersema – Jun. 29, 2010 11:10 AM
The Arizona Republic

Fisher Sand & Gravel, which must dismantle an illegal Phoenix asphalt plant, on Monday secured $45 million worth of state road projects despite objections by Arizona transportation officials.

Officials from the Arizona Department of Transportation had questioned the company’s reliability and honesty in handling previous contracts, but a state board that has the final say disagreed.

The State Transportation Board awarded Fisher Sand & Gravel three separate contracts estimated at $45 million to widen a stretch of Interstate 10 and repave sections of Interstate 8 and Arizona 80 near Douglas.

State attorneys on Monday argued before the seven-member board, which determines who gets ADOT contracts, that Fisher has failed to fulfill some of its responsibilities in two recent contracts worth $26 million, including failing to sterilize the ground to prevent potential chemical leeching from an upgrade for the wastewater treatment system at the McGuireville Interstate 17 rest stop.

The contract with Fisher also involves a 10-mile widening of I-17 from Arizona 179 to the Coconino County line. The project costs $6.3 million.

The board, though, declared in a unanimous vote that Fisher is a “responsible contractor” and accepted its latest bids.

State engineers had asked the board to hold the hearing, Board Chairman Bob Montoya said.

ADOT typically recommends that the State Transportation Board approve the lowest bid on contracts. Montoya said Monday marked the first “responsible contractor hearing” he has overseen since his appointment to the board more than five years ago.

Fisher Sand & Gravel has been under legal scrutiny for building an asphalt mill near 32nd Street and Broadway Road without permits from Phoenix. Neighbors of the site have complained about pollution from the mill and gravel plant.

The State Transportation Board did not consider issues outside of Fisher’s scope of work for the state, excluding from consideration a recent settlement agreement with Phoenix and a court decision requiring Fisher to remove the asphalt mill and pay $243,000 in fines.

Fisher spokesman Karl Gentles said the community situation with the south Phoenix plant and ADOT contracts are “completely two separate issues.”

“Today is a good day for Fisher Sand & Gravel,” he said.

Assistant Attorney General Joe Acosta Jr., alleged that Fisher should not have subcontracted with one of its subsidiaries, Southwest Asphalt Paving, for a portion of the $19 million project that added lanes to U.S. 60 through Tempe. He said questions also remain about where Fisher obtained some of the steel for the project because the company lacked the proper documentation proving it was certified.

But he told the board the steel was certified as safe through testing by an independent lab.

While discussing problems with the McGuireville project, Acosta said that a now-former supervisor at one point falsified documents to avoid ADOT scrutiny for failing to sterilize the ground before laying down the liner for paving.

The supervisor was fired, Fisher officials said.

Fisher attorney Bill Quinlan said the company has offered before to remove the liner and sterilize the ground at no extra cost to the state. He repeated the offer at the hearing, which ADOT is expected to consider.

Read more: http://archive.azcentral.com/community/phoenix/articles/20100629fisher-sand-and-gravel-wins-road-contract.html#ixzz3Wv4cIPuL