November 2004 - Connector to westbound 91 under construction (RXSQ)

Contract dispute halts work on ‘Malfunction Junction’

After years of waiting for reconstruction of the 60/91/215 freeway interchange in downtown Riverside — AKA “Malfunction Junction” — drivers will have to wait even longer as a recent contract dispute between Caltrans and the primary contractor (Washington-Obayashi) has halted work on the $318 million project.

After a year of commitment, the contractor on the region’s most ambitious transportation project has halted most work and is threatening to pull out of the job permanently, citing what it called an overwhelming number of design changes demanded by Caltrans. The withdrawal leaves behind unfinished bridges and aborted upgrades at the notoriously gridlocked intersection.

Riverside Press-Enterprise – February 20, 2005

The dispute centers around the use by Caltrans of what is known as “design sequencing,” a process by which the final phases of a project are designed while construction begins on earlier phases. Such a process is meant to both save money and speed up the overall completion by beginning construction earlier in the design process. However, it can also increase the likelihood of design changes during construction as plans become finalized.

Although budgeted with a 10% contingency fund, Caltrans says the requested changes, which Washington-Obayashi says is now forcing them to seriously consider pulling out of the entire project, have not gone above and beyond what was expected in such a process.

Moreover, with other bids ranging from $198 million to $208 million, some officials have even hinted that Washington-Obayashi — at $186 million — may have significantly underbid their portion of the project.

If a permanent pull-out by Washington-Obayashi does come to pass, Caltrans says the remainder of the 4-year project would still be attractive enough to another bidder and may only stall the project for as little as 6 months — offering some solace for the 330,000 drivers who trudge through the snarled interchange each day.

Related

  • Riverside Press-Enterprise – Ground to a halt (Feb. 20) | ‘It just sucks you in, holds you under’ (Feb. 20)

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Sources: Riverside Press-Enterprise (PE-20050220)

2024 PAGE UPDATE: Added newspaper citation/insert; removed outdated links to newspaper articles.

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