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State Senator calls on FDOT to explain thousands of added project days

I-Team uncover state projects delays by 41 years
Posted: 7:19 PM, May 15, 2019
Updated: 2019-05-15 19:19:39-04
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- A local lawmaker is demanding answers after an I-Team investigation into road construction delays.

Investigator Adam Walser uncovered local projects are dragging on after the Florida Department of Transportation let contractors add thousands of extra work days to their contracts.

RELATED: FDOT paid contractors $8 million in bonuses as state road projects faced delays, budget increases

I-TEAM INVESTIGATIONS | Our latest investigations

Now a Florida Senator says he wants FDOT to explain why.

“I see it as I travel this Bay area to get to areas of my district,” said State Sen. Darryl Rouson.

Rouson says road construction delays are a daily nightmare for him and the people he represents.

“They're tired of it. They're watching these orange barrels with the white stripes. They're looking at machinery sitting and not any work being done,” Rouson said.

Sen. Rouson said he was shocked at what the I-Team uncovered:

  • FDOT added 15,050 days... or about 41 years… to the latest Bay area road projects.
  • The department approved extra days for holidays, special events and bad weather.
  • On an expansion of Gandy Blvd.the state added 600 extra days.

Rouson says he drives that road almost daily to get from one side of his district to the other.

The state told us they stand by every holiday and weather day, but Rouson isn't buying it.

“I'm drafting a letter today,” he said.

Rouson says he’s contacting FDOT, putting them on notice that all those construction delays have gone on too long.

“If FDOT claims that they stand by every weather day and every delayed day they've granted, then as a legislator, we need to look at what FDOT's done and hold them accountable. The public is weary,” Rouson said.

We reached out to several lawmakers, but the only other one to offer a written response was Rep. Mike Beltran of Hillsborough County.

Here is his statement:

"Traffic delays caused by congestion and construction are unacceptable. These problems are particularly severe in my district in Southeast Hillsborough County. I expect the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to ensure that projects are completed timely and at a fair value to taxpayers. I believe that FDOT should reexamine the practice of providing long extensions due to foreseeable variations in weather or temperature. I will be following up with FDOT in the future to find ways that the legislature may be able to offer its assistance in expediting road projects, so that my constituents, as well as the citizens of the rest of our state, are not greatly inconvenienced by delays."

If you have a story you’d like the I-Team to investigate, email us at adam@abcactionnews.com.