The Chicago company painting the Singing Bridge has had to forfeit $93,600 as of today for failing to complete the job on time.
The bridge was closed April 13, and the job was supposed to be finished by Aug. 31, said Chuck Wolfe, spokesman for the state Transportation Cabinet.
“We had a flood in the spring, so another couple of weeks were added to that time frame,” Wolfe said.
“From Sept. 15 to Oct. 10, the liquidated damages rate was $1,200 a day, and since Oct. 11 the rate has been $2,400 a day,” Wolfe said.
“The cabinet is not happy with the progress of the project.”
There were four bidders, and Eagle Painting and Maintenance Co.’s $2.7 million bid, the lowest, was awarded in January, Wolfe said. “They were given a work order March 30.”
Rick Paul has renamed the Singing Bridge next to his White Light Diner “The Bridge from Hell.”
“The closed bridge is driving me crazy,” Paul said in an e-mail earlier this week. “It will open soon and then be closed again next year for more painting.
“Think about it, closed three years in a row, rather disgusting.”
It was closed for part of 2009 for structural repairs.
Rick’s White Light Diner was featured earlier this year on Guy Fieri’s popular Food Network show, “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.”
The national publicity has brought a lot of tourists here, Paul said, but the closed bridge is “hurting business tremendously.”
“When they shut the bridge down to paint it (in April), I understood it would be about six weeks,” Paul said. “It was supposed to be done before the World Equestrian Games.”
Painting was halted and the bridge reopened during the games, but then was closed again after the games ended.
“When it opened back up for the Equestrian Games business was good, but now it’s about half of what it was when the bridge was opened,” Paul said.
“The tourists coming here because of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives – they eventually find it. But one told me this week he almost gave up.”
Much of the business he’s missing is from those driving by and people downtown that can’t use the bridge walkway, Paul said.
Danny Bryant, owner of Pic-Pac on Second Street, said the closed bridge “has hurt business some. Anytime you block the flow of traffic it’s going to have an effect.”
Eagle Painting and Maintenance’s headquarters is in Lansing, Ill., a southern suburb of Chicago.
Pete Maroulis, foreman for the company, said Wednesday afternoon about 12 are working on the bridge.
But Maroulis said the project would temporarily stop again Nov. 15 and wouldn’t resume until April 1, 2011.
It’s in the contract, Maroulis said.
“Every state does it because it’s too cold out there,” he said.
When work continues in April, it will take about a month to finish, Maroulis said.
Wolfe said, “As a practical matter, you want to get your painting jobs done in warm weather. The project was supposed to have been completed by Aug. 31.”
But the cabinet hasn’t made a decision to stop work Nov. 15 and restart it in the spring, Wolfe said.
“There’s been no decision like that made,” Wolfe said. “There will have to be a good bit of discussion here shortly about the project (between the state construction division and highway engineer).”
Paul said he’s “overheard conversations in the diner that indicate to me the state bridge inspectors are driving them nuts and causing the project to go a lot longer than it should.”
Wolfe said, “We would disagree with that.”