The Investigators

Jun 18, 2014 1:03 AM by Matthew Schwartz

N4T Investigators: Investigation demanded into major road project

Tucson - The widening of La Canada Drive from two lanes to four, from River Road to Ina, is costing taxpayers nearly $19 million. The project has been plagued by problems, including sub-contractors walking off the job saying they weren't paid by the general contractor, Select Development; lawsuits filed against and by Select, and delays.

The News 4 Tucson Investigators have learned about new problems: A requested investigation into Select Development and another delay, the third so far. Now Pima County says the job is scheduled to be done by July 1. But several sub-contractors told us they don't think it'll be complete until September at the earliest.

Jim Kuelish, President and CEO of the Alliance of Construction Trades, representing 250 sub-contractors and suppliers, says, "This job's a nightmare. This job has caused nothing but problems and heartbreak." Kuelish wants an investigation into Select Development's handling of the job, to be led by County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry.

"Let's face it, he's the boss", Kuelish said of Huckeberry. "And he should be in there fighting for us. Us, Pima County businesses and citizens. He should gather the top officials in the Department of Transportation and he should say, ‘Tell me, what the hell is happening on this job?'"

Huckelberry declined our interview request, citing pending lawsuits involving Select Development.

Bill Noland is suing Select for alleged non-payment to his concrete construction company, Dimension 318. Noland is one of the sub-contractors who walked off the job. Select has filed a counter-claim against Noland, saying he failed to finish his work.

Select has not responded to our visit last week to their construction trailer or to our phone calls. As the News 4 Tucson Investigators reported in February, Pima County Director of Transportation , Priscilla Cornelio, said she was "A hundred-percent" positive the job would be done by mid-April.

But in our follow-up report in April, when the job was far from completed, Cornelio pushed back the completion date to June.

Cornelio attributed the delay to workers having to relocate a water well. She wasn't available for an interview for this report, but in an email to the News 4 Tucson Investigators, Cornelio said:

"We are monitoring Select Development closely particularly regarding payments to subs...we have also given Select Development 49 additional working days related to utility delays due to conflicts. The new contract time will expire after July 1st."

None of the County's actions so far have satisfied unpaid sub-contractors, who are also angry that the County last fall awarded Select the Magee Road job, this one for almost $10 million.

Jim Kuelish of the Alliance of Construction Trades, says, "This has been going on for months and months and it's time really now for the boss, Mr. Huckelberry, to step in."

There is no indication that the County will investigate Select, but Director of Transportation Cornelio told the News 4 Tucson Investigators that Select could be fined $2500 per work day if it doesn't make the July 1 deadline. We'll be watching.

If you have a story you'd like us to investigate, email us at investigators@kvoa.com, or call (520) 955-4444.

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