When Duke’s new leader, James E. Rogers, appeared before the commission later that month, his testimony indicated that Johnson’s management of pending repairs at the broken Crystal River nuclear powerplant in Citrus County, Fla., had been a major cause of concern for the utility’s board of directors. Johnson had previously stated that Crystal River’s repairs—needed after a botched replacement of generators—would cost about $1.3 billion. Duke later produced its own report that stated repair costs could prove much higher.
Roads v. Taxes. As the summer heated up, so did the political rhetoric. Leading up to a statewide vote in Georgia over a one-cent sales tax increase to ">boost transportation funding, members of the Tea Party fought hard to defeat the measure, which had been backed by Republican Gov. Nathan Deal. And on July 31, the penny tax for transportation mostly went down to ">defeat.
If approved statewide, the tax would have generated an estimated $18.7 billion in new transportation revenue over the next 10 years—with about $8.5 billion of that amount slated for the Atlanta area. But because the measure was approved in only two less-populated regions, transpo funding gets boosted by only $1.8 billion over the next decade.
Government Owner v. Builder. In August, shortly after the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs threatened to ">terminate general contractor Brasfield & Gorrie from its troubled and much-delayed, $300-million Orlando hospital project, a Congressional committee met across the street from the job site to get ">some answers. Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), the chair of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, didn’t get many from the hours of testimony, and stated afterwards: “It is clear from today’s hearing both VA and the contractor still have quite a long way to go to come together and figure out how to work together, which is what needs to happen.”
Left unanswered at the time was whether VA would indeed terminate Brasfield & Gorrie or let the firm finish the job. But the contractor is still working, and both groups are starting to sound more optimistic about the project’s timetable.
Deadly Collapse. Of course, there were other events during the past year that weren’t the results of fights or squabbles. One unfortunate news story was the ">Oct. 10 collapse of a parking garage project at Miami Dade College in Doral, which killed four workers. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration was still investigating. To date, three wrongful death lawsuits have been filed on behalf of the deceased workers: Carlos Hurtado de Mendoza, 48; Jose Calderon, 60; Samuel Perez, 53; and Robert Budhoo, 53.
Healthy Rebound. Lurking behind the news of the garage collapse was the promise of a major uptick in construction activity for the South Florida region. As stated previously, McGraw-Hill Construction reported that the value of new contracts in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale metro jumped by roughly 80% during 2012, compared to the previous year. A positive sign, for sure. But here’s hoping that safety efforts will be likewise enhanced during this coming acceleration, and that construction fatalities don’t make the news again in 2013.
For a visual retrospective of these stories and others, check out the attached slideshow.