Klein & Wilson

Faulty retaining walls delay work on San Diego Freeway

The 405 Freeway in San Diego is already over budget by more than $100 million. According to state and federal officials, collapsing retaining walls and problems with the car-pool lane have caused massive delays and increased costs. Earlier this year, a review by the Federal Highway Administration was requested by Henry Waxman, a U.S. Representative.

That review, which was completed with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Caltrans and other agencies, found that the retaining wall collapse close to Mountaingate Drive started a ripple effect that has negatively affected the entire project. In addition, relocating utility lines has also had an impact.

Residents in the area are very frustrated, with one lady saying it has often taken her husband an hour to travel seven miles to work. This project, meant to put in a car-pool lane ten miles long, as well as the retaining walls for that lane, is behind schedule more than 15 months.

The problems with the retaining walls is "the single biggest factor in extending the completion date to Sept. 2014." The company responsible for designing the project, as well as its construction, is Kiewit, which is based out of Omaha, Nebraska. HNTB is a global firm in charge of the project's design. Once the problems started to appear with the retaining walls, SSL LLC, which is the company that supplied materials for the walls, retooled the designs. Now Kiewit, HNTB and SSL are all in the midst of construction litigation. SSL says that the design was fine, except for the drains. SSL also alleges that the installation was not adequate. Kiewit claims that the retaining wall system was defective and deficient.

Even though there are many problems with the project, officials with Metro say that there are some achievements with the project. For example, three miles of the car-pool lane is open. The project is 85 percent complete. Drivers are starting to report that the opening of part of the car-pool lane has helped reduce their commute times, according to a recent traffic report.

When lawsuits regarding construction are filed, those companies involved must act quickly to limit potential damage. Experienced business law attorneys can help protect a company's reputation, as well as protecting the company's interests.

dailynews.com, "San Diego (405) Freeway work delayed by faulty retaining walls" Dakota Smith, Oct. 19, 2013

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