TN Contractor Fires Back at DOT Over Guardrail Dispute

Tue May 24, 2005 - Southeast Edition

CHATTANOOGA, TN (AP) The president of a company accused by Tennessee transportation officials of installing faulty guardrails along state roads believes his business is being falsely accused.

In a letter to the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT), KRD Corp. President David Stutz said his company recently repaired shortened guardrail posts installed by another company. The East Ridge-based company was paid $7,600 to reinstall guardrail posts sunk only a foot into the ground on Plateau Road over Interstate 40 after the posts began to fall over, Stutz said in the letter.

“KRD is amazed that the inadequate depth of the railings in that project is not being investigated or discussed by the state,” Stutz stated.

Officials with LU Inc. of Kingston Springs have admitted they allowed crews to install guardrail posts just a foot deep instead of the required 44 in. on some state highways, according to a TDOT audit released last month. Stutz’s letter implicated a third company in the state investigation of contractors, but does not name the company.

In a May 4 letter to KRD, state officials said the company had improperly installed guardrails, allegations that the company disputes.

In his letter, Stutz said the accusation that his company had installed bad guardrails “appears to be a personal attack on myself and KRD.”

“I cannot help but wonder whether the state’s apparent past inappropriate conduct … over other guardrail contractors [at least as insinuated in the same media reports] is the reason why your office is now seeking to harm KRD’s reputation,” the letter stated.

Stutz said TDOT inspectors should have been aware of any problems if they existed.

“If the DOT has a problem with the quality and competence of its inspectors, then the DOT should address that issue without the scorched-earth policy employed here,” the letter stated.

In a separate letter sent to TDOT, lawyer Scott Brown said the department had leveled an “irrational series of charges” against KRD, and requested an immediate meeting with TDOT officials.

Brown also said Transportation Department inspectors should have known if KRD was shortening guardrails.

“And if that were a routine practice of KRD … how do your people know this, and why did they allow it?” the letter stated.