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Cost Overruns, Delays Plague I-95 Widening in East Haven

Wed February 22, 2006 - Northeast Edition
CEG



EAST HAVEN, CT (AP) Millions of additional dollars spent by the state to widen Interstate 95 in East Haven have included approximately $2 million for police who are responsible for traffic control.

Approximately $1.85 million of extra money spent so far for traffic control has gone to East Haven police officers and their department, according to an analysis of state Department of Transportation (DOT) records by the New Haven Register.

Off-duty state police troopers also received approximately $621,000 for working at the construction site. New Haven and Branford police have received approximately $149,000, which includes payment to use police vehicles by off-duty officers working at the DOT site.

Since October 2003, the state has spent more than $2.74 million on extra-duty local and state police to control traffic at the construction site.

That’s more than four times what state Department of Transportation planners initially estimated would be needed. The project has racked up cost overruns totaling $9.5 million.

DOT contracts include a standard 5 percent markup for the project’s contractor to cover administrative costs for deciding how many off-duty officers will be needed and where they should work.

The company that won the bid for the $41.8-million job in East Haven is O&G Industries, one of the state’s biggest highway contractors. O&G has received more than $137,000 since October 2003 for assigning traffic control officers at the project’s site, according to DOT records.

Total state costs for off-duty police at the construction site are eventually expected to reach more than $3.5 million when the project is complete. State officials now say work will be wrapped up in late July or August.

Traffic control on the I-95 widening project is complicated. The highway section is among the most heavily traveled in Connecticut with roads that provide access on either side of the highway carrying a high volume of local traffic.

DOT officials said the initial cost estimates for traffic control were wrong and that they are revising the system used to make such estimates.

Problems and delays created a rising need for more traffic control officers and overtime. Last year, some East Haven officers more than doubled their regular salaries as a result of overtime.

A significant portion was due to time spent working traffic control on the I-95 project.