The Wisconsin Department of Transportation will rely on groups of three construction experts to settle disputes with contractors on large Interstate 94 projects.
The program is designed to keep projects on track by avoiding drawn-out fights over payment claims that sometimes have to go to the state Legislature for resolution, said Ryan Luck, I-94 construction chief and project manager on the Marquette Interchange reconstruction.
Under the system, WisDOT and the contractor select a representative, and the two nominees then agree on a third member of a resolution board. The board has the final say in settling all disputes involving less than $250,000, Luck said.
WisDOT used the approach for the first time on the Marquette on contracts with Walsh Construction Co., Chicago, and Marquette Constructors LLC, Luck said.
“There’s lots of issues that come up on a project, and one issue is to resolve disputes in a timely manner,” he said.
WisDOT will require the dispute-resolution method on the contract for the Layton Avenue bridge over I-94 project, which will be bid in January 2010, and on the Mitchell Interchange reconstruction, which will be bid in fall 2010, Luck said.
There were no disputes on the Marquette that went to the board, Luck said, but the meetings between the board, WisDOT and contractors became a forum to work out kinks in the project, such as the need for more inspectors in a certain area, he said.
“It’s good to have it, but we were never able to use the full power of it,” Luck said. “We would use that almost like a facilitator.”
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