One month after being kicked off the Diverging Diamond Interchange project at S.R. 56 and I-75, D.A.B. Constructors has informed the Florida Department of Transportation it is voluntarily defaulting on the S.R. 54 widening project as well.

On July 28, “FDOT received letters from DAB informing us that they are financially unable to perform or complete the performance of the work as prime contractor, which constitutes a voluntary default…,” FDOT spokesperson Kris Carson wrote in an email.

But it isn’t just the S.R. 54 widening project, which was supposed to be completed by the end of the year, that D.A.B. Constructors is walking away from. There are five other projects in Pasco, Hernando and Citrus counties:

  • C.R. 580 Sam Allen Rd. from S.R. 39 to Park Rd.
  • US 19 Widening from Green Acres to W. Jump Ct
  • US 19 Widening from W. Jump Court to W. Fort Island Trail
  • US 19 Resurfacing from Hernando County Line to Green Acres
  • SR 52 Widening from Suncoast Parkway to US 41

“FDOT will be working with the Surety Companies to take over and complete the projects,” Carson says.

D.A.B. Contractors issued a statement, signed by president Doborah Bachschmidt and executive vice president Bill Bachschmidt, earlier this week, published in the Citrus County Chronicle, saying that “After over 33 years as a small heavy civil construction firm based in Inglis, Florida, D.A.B. is winding down all operations and putting the completion of ongoing projects in the hands of our bonding companies.”

D.A.B. essentially says the DDI project led to it pulling out of its other projects due to financial strain.

FDOT’s actions in regards to D.A.B. being behind schedule on the DDI which was made public last fall, were a “deathblow” to the company. D.A.B. says it accelerated construction without payment from FDOT to meet milestone dates.

“When D.A.B. achieved the milestones to the extent feasible under the FDOT-furnished defective plans”, the company wrote, “FDOT moved the goalposts. We suffered a classic domino-effect, as our acceleration efforts had diverted resources from other ongoing projects and drained the company of millions of dollars such that operations cannot be sustained.”

It wrote it has been in a 15-month tug-of-war with FDOT due to errors in the design.

“Despite the existence of a significant errors in the project design provided by FDOT and the recommendation of an independent Disputes Review Board that upheld D.A.B.’s contentions regarding the existence of the design errors and the resulting impact to the project schedule and costs to complete, FDOT has declared D.A.B. in default.”

Last month, in a letter dated June 25, D.A.B. Constructors told FDOT they were “demobilizing” from the DDI project, two days before it was defaulted on the project by FDOT.

D.A.B., which says it is the only remaining woman-owned prime contractor in the state, says it cannot continue to self-finance FDOT projects while it waits on the outcome of court action.

Carson says D.A.B. Constructors filed a lawsuit against FDOT on July 1.

“We very much regret the inevitable inconveniences to the traveling public as D.A.B.’s ongoing jobs are transitioned to others for completion,” the Bachschmidts wrote.” We are working cooperatively with our sureties to expedite take over and completion work. Likewise, despite what we’ve encountered with FDOT, we intend to continue to cooperate with the department.”

That is disappointing news for Wesley Chapel residents, who just a few months ago were expecting the DDI and 54 widening to be completed before 2022. That now appears unlikely.

The 54 widening is a $42.5-million project to transform S.R. 54 from two to four lanes east of Curley Rd to east of Morris Bridge Rd., a 4.5-mile stretch. A sidewalk will be built on the north side of the road and a 10-foot wide multi-use trail will be built on the south side.

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