Photo by John Schreiber.
Photo by John Schreiber.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has agreed to pay nearly $300 million more to the contractor of the San Diego (405) Freeway widening project to resolve a long dispute over responsibility for schedule delays, design changes and cost overruns, it was reported Monday.

The settlement will increase the cost of the Sepulveda Pass project above $1.6 billion, about 55 percent higher than the original budget, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The $297.8-million agreement follows years of disagreements between Kiewit Corp. and Metro over how the freeway widening was managed. Kiewit has said in legal filings that Metro’s repeated changes to the project’s design and failure to identify and relocate utilities added significantly to delays, according to The Times.

Metro’s directors approved the settlement in closed session earlier this month. They will be asked Thursday to formally increase the project budget to nearly $1.61 billion, The Times reported.

“Frankly, there were deficiencies,Duarte Mayor John Fasana, the chairman of the Metro board, told The Times, referring to how the agency handled the project.

Metro could have continued to negotiate the settlement but we had some culpability, and it was time to move forward,” Fasana told The Times.

In a report to directors, staff members wrote that the “significant lessons learned” from the settlement included the importance of “detailed underground utilities investigations” before beginning a billion-dollar project, The Times reported.

Kiewit filed suit against Metro in 2014 in the same month the carpool lane opened, seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in reimbursements, according to The Times.

The company said in court documents that the design changes made after work began,as well as tasks that were not included in their original contract, created staggering expenses.

—City News Service

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