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County considers settling road-width lawsuit

Plastic bags cover 55 mph speed-limit signs on County Road 905 in Key Largo after a construction dispute. The speed limit was lowered when work altered the width of the road.
Plastic bags cover 55 mph speed-limit signs on County Road 905 in Key Largo after a construction dispute. The speed limit was lowered when work altered the width of the road. kwadlow@keynoter.com

At some point, the plastic bags could come off the 55 mph speed-limit signs on County Road 905 on North Key Largo.

A proposed settlement on a construction dispute on 11 miles of the road will be presented to the Monroe County Commission, meeting today at the Murray E. Nelson Government and Cultural Center on Key Largo.

The draft agreement, if accepted by commissioners, would reduce the county’s payment to contractors by about $200,000 in a compromise pact to end a lawsuit over what the county called “defective and non-conforming work.”

A $3.4 million project to create bike lanes on the road through the protected hardwood hammocks of North Key Largo hit a snag when county engineers reported that adding the bike lanes apparently shaved about six inches off each side of the vehicle roadway, bring the driving lanes down to 11 feet, 6 inches wide

The standard road size considered acceptable for a 55 mph speed limit is 12 feet, engineers reported.

County engineering staff blamed the contractors and consulting engineers, while the builders attorney described the lane-width dispute as “a difference of opinion... The project is safe.”

Speed limits on County Road 905 have been reduced to 45 mph since mid-2015. “A lot of people who live in that area ... are damn sure not happy about it,” County Commissioner David Rice said in May 2015.

The proposed agreement calls for some minor additional work taking a few days. Commissioners eventually will be asked to decide whether to restore the 55 mph speed limit on the finished road.

“Full repair of the non-conforming work has not been made. That would take millions of dollars and take months to complete,” said Assistant County Attorney Chris Ambrosio, lead negotiator on the settlement.

Since the case involved the county against Construct Group Corp., Berkeley Regional Insurance, Metric Engineering and EAC Consulting, reaching a draft settlement was difficult, Ambrosio said.

Kevin Wadlow: 305-440-3206

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