US-12 construction expected to be finished soon

EDWARDSBURG — After several weeks of inactivity, with orange cones sitting still and equipment resting on the side shoulder, road construction on US-12 in Edwardsburg has once again commenced.

Activity began toward the end of last week and should be done around Friday, Oct. 26. The original completion date was supposed to be Oct. 5.

“We lost a few weeks to the labor dispute,” said Nick Schirripa, communications representative with MDOT. “It’s still a little fluid. There will be a few things that they might have to get buttoned up.”

Construction on US-12 was halted in early September due to a labor dispute between Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association and the Operating Engineers Local 324. At the time, MDOT released a statement in regard to the dispute, saying that “contractors are obligated to maintain a safe work zone for motorists at all times and are required to do so for the full duration of the project even during delay caused by a labor dispute.”

Then on Sept. 27, Gov. Rick Snyder announced that the labor dispute had been resolved.

Some contractors were able to restart projects as soon as Oct. 1, but it took other project, such as the one in Edwardsburg, to restart. According to Schirripa, contractors were given reasonable time to submit new schedules and reactivate workers.

“There were some issues that kind of relate to us because the labor dispute lasted so long,” he said. “Some of the [workers] took jobs with other companies or just in other fields all together. Obviously, they couldn’t afford to not get a paycheck, so the [contractor] needed to get some of those guys back for find new workers to fill those spots.”

If contractors were going to need to push construction into next year, they would have needed to submita plan to MDOT outlining how they were going to safely open up the road during winter.

As far as Schirripa knows, no such plan was submitted regarding the construction on US-12 in Edwardsburg or anywhere else in southwest Michigan.

At this point in time, he said MDOT is still uncertain how much the labor dispute is going to impact the overall cost of each construction project. Any additional cost or penalties have yet to be determined and will be accessed on a project-by-project basis, which he says is the standard procedure.

“There are so many different variables that go into determining that,” Schirripa said. “I wouldn’t even be able to speculate. That’s way above my paygrade, obviously. That gets the attorney general involved.”

For the time being, he said that MDOT is focused on getting as much work done as possible while following strict federal and state quality standards and also “ensuring the safety for workers and motorists.”

The only thing that could prevent the construction in US-12 from finishing around Oct. 26 is mother nature.

“It’s weather pending,” Schirripa said. “We’re not pushing anything into next year that was started this year.”

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