NORTH RICHLAND HILLS, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – It’s been three years since work began on a one-mile stretch of Rufe Snow Drive in North Richland Hills and drivers have had enough.
“Cars have been damaged, homes have decreased in value, businesses have suffered,” Rick Faletti said, shaking his head. “It’s not a good look for North Richland Hills, it’s not a good look for TxDOT, and it’s certainly not a good look for Kodiak.”
He’s talking about Kodiak Trenching and Boring, LLC, the contractor in charge of widening 1.25 miles of Rufe Snow. The project will add two lanes and sidewalks from Mid Cities Boulevard to Ridgetop Road.
On one side of the street are residents, fed up by years of orange barrels and mountains of dirt. On the other side several small businesses are struggling to survive, including the Campfire Grill restaurant. “The people that come in, they love us,” said co-owner Kareem Lawton. “It’s just hard for people to see us.”
North Richland Hills city council members awarded Kodiak a $12.1 million contract for the job back in March 2016. Paperwork obtained by The Ones For Justice shows Kodiak was the lowest bidder by about $1 million.
Work began soon after, with an original deadline of February 2018. That date came and went, with Kodiak accruing a $1,285 fine for every work day since. The company has pushed the original deadline back at least six times, racking up more than $345,000 in liquidated damages so far. According to the city’s website the latest date for completion is in July 2019.
The Ones For Justice found a pattern of major delays in Kodiak projects in the last five years:
–An Irving wastewater improvement project originally expected to last 10 months is two years past its deadline. Work began in March 2016, just before the Rufe Snow project. The city is now suing Kodiak and its insurance company as the project remains unfinished.
–A Fort Worth neighborhood project scheduled for 15 months lasted more than two years. The developer said Kodiak “bit off more than they could chew.”
–A sewer project in Keller took six months longer than planned. The city eventually hired another contractor and collected $86,500 in damages from Kodiak.
–Two projects in Frisco finished “significantly over the original timeline,” according to a city official. One project scheduled for six months took almost a year and a half. Frisco collected $95,250 in damages from Kodiak.
–A $12.2 million water line relocation project in Waco was late by about six months in 2016 and led to $340,000 in liquidated damages against Kodiak. The city says it is still dealing with workmanship issues related to the project. “It was a mess, to put it bluntly,” said one official.
–The Trinity River Authority says a pipeline project that began in 2016 is not yet complete. The original deadline was in mid-2017; it’s now expected to be complete in September 2019.
Three municipalities, Coppell, Ector County ISD and the North Texas Municipal Water District, said Kodiak finished their projects on time.
Meanwhile the company is facing mounting legal issues, with at least 28 lawsuits filed against Kodiak since 2017. Most of them involve contractors who said Kodiak wasn’t paying invoices. About two-thirds of the cases settled out of court, with the rest still pending. Kodiak’s insurance provider, The Hanover Insurance Company, is suing the contractor in federal court.
Kodiak declined CBS11’s requests for an interview and sent this statement instead:
“We appreciate the invitation to comment on your coverage involving our client, Kodiak Trenching & Boring, LLC, and certainly understand the public interest in the Rufe Snow Construction Project located in North Richland Hills. Kodiak is fully committed to complete its work on the Rufe Snow Project while continuing to work closely with the City of North Richland Hills. Since the remaining issues related to your impending coverage of our client are presently subject to ongoing litigation, we simply cannot comment at this time — except to emphasize these are complex legal
and factual issues involving numerous companies, municipalities, and contractual matters. That said, the proper place to try these issues is in court — not in the media.”
Every North Richland Hills city council member and the mayor refused to be interviewed or provide comment. Several cited pending litigation, though the city is not a party in any of the lawsuits against Kodiak.
It’s the silence that frustrates residents like Faletti the most.
“I think that there needs to be some people in some prominent positions who need to answer to what’s going on here, said Faletti. “Why did this happen? And what can be done to keep this from happening to another community?”