Excessive Rain Causes Road Project Costs to Soar

Delaware Department of Transportation officials say excessive rain has delayed an ongoing construction project in New Castle County and will now cost millions more to complete in time for the busy holiday season.

The construction project at Interstate 95 and Route 1 near the Christiana Mall was supposed to cost taxpayers $85 million. Cherry Hill Construction, a Maryland-based company overseeing the project, even promised it could get the work done 14 months ahead of schedule.

But a contractor says too much rain has stalled progress and they will now need the state to fork over an additional $20 million to finish the project – a total cost of $105 million to taxpayers.

Commuters say they are growing frustrated and want the nightmare of a construction project to end.

“They’ve been working on this for almost two years now. So just the rain the last couple of weeks is the problem?," Larry Peabody said.

Mark Buckalew, a Delaware Department of Transportation engineer monitoring the site, tells NBC10 that the state has no choice but to pay the overtime costs to make sure the ramps on the interchange are open by October. He says rain days were factored into the project initially but they did not anticipate a rain July.

“Rain days are factored into the bid. They figure on 15 days for the month of April, you expect a lot of rain. When you're talking about July, you're not talking about 15 days you're talking about 4. This month in July we've had a lot of rain days,” said Buckalew.

Transportation officials say they also found some bad soil underneath the dirt that has to be treated which has also added to the delay.

All major work on the ramps is expected to be completed by Black Friday. The project aims to create a smoother merging and alleviate congestion at one of Delaware’s busiest exchanges, according to DelawareOnline.

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