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File photo
File photo
The railroad bridge at Metropolitan Avenue and Fresh Pond Road, as shown prior to construction.

For residents of Ridgewood and Middle Village, the reconstruction of a railroad bridge in a high-traffic area has caused headaches for commuters after repeated delays to the project, and things just got worse.

On Friday, a Department of Transportation spokesperson confirmed to QNS that its contract with Mugrose Construction to rebuild the Metropolitan Avenue and Fresh Pond Road bridge over the Montauk line of the Long Island Rail Road has defaulted. The project that was once projected to have its first phase completed by January 2018 has now been completely stalled.

The DOT cited delays that were beyond its control, and is now working closely with the bonding company to get the project completed as quickly as possible, the spokesperson said.

Construction contracts typically involve a contract surety bond to protect the owner of the property (DOT, in this case) from the risks associated with construction projects. The bonding company assumes that burden, and in the event of a defaulted contract their options are to re-bid the job for completion, bring in a replacement contractor, provide financial or technical assistance to the existing contractor or pay the penal sum of the bond.

Therefore, a defaulted contract doesn’t necessarily mean the contractor has been ousted, but the DOT offered no further details.

QNS has not yet heard back from Mugrose Construction after a request for comment.

Vincent Arcuri, chairman of Community Board 5 and a retired construction manager, said that he remembers working on a project in which the contract was defaulted, and the bonding company ended up paying for all of the expenses and the project was completed on time. He has also seen the opposite, when a surety bond wasn’t legitimate.

“I’ve seen in the past where they produce a piece of paper saying they were bonded, but in reality they just bought the piece of paper, and that’s fraud,” Arcuri said.

Arcuri added that it appears Mugrose wasn’t qualified for this work based on their previous experience. But however this plays out, he said, there will be further delays in the project while the DOT is communicating with the bonding company, and especially if they have to bring in a new contractor or produce a new bond.

This project has been hitting bumps in the road from the very beginning, as noted in a QNS/Ridgewood Times report in November. Mugrose was scheduled to first begin working on the bridge deck replacement in July of 2016, but there were setbacks in reviewing and approving the design of the bridge. Another delay occurred that October when the contractor was unable to secure the appropriate permits for the work.

In 2017, the project was delayed once again to accommodate unforeseen repairs to the MTA M train line.

Mugrose was also the company that offered the lowest bid for the project.

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Pedro Valdez Rivera Jr. January 05, 2018 / 06:13PM
Bureaucracy is as bureaucracy does.
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