Weeks after the Texas Dept. of Transportation defaulted a big Mexico-based contractor on at least five road projects, little is known about what happened or why.

The projects, in Houston, Beaumont and El Paso, all are backed by surety guarantees. Zurich North America provided Tradeco Infrasestructura surety bonds for at least one of the projects, according to a TexDOT district engineer involved with one of the defaults.

Public works agencies generally declare contractors in default for failing to make adequate progress in their work or for failing to pay subcontractors.

Neither Tradeco officials nor Zurich officials could be reached for comment.

On one project the contractor apparently decided to quit after only two months on the job. After receiving notice from El Paso district TxDOT that it would be serving the company a declaration of default [cq] based on Tradeco’s problems with four other TxDOT projects, Tradeco chose to walk away from the $15.8 million Concord Road project, which involves widening I-10 and adding collector-distributor lanes along a six-mile stretch.

“The project they have here is on schedule and moving right along,” said TxDOT district engineer Bob Bielek. “But it’s the same surety [for the project] that had taken care of other projects” in the state on which Tradeco has defaulted.

The initial default notice sent by TexDOT on one of the Tradeco projects apparently dates to late May.

Tradeco was chosen for the Concord Road project as the lowest responsible bidder on the project, Beilek said. “We didn’t have a choice but to hire them because they were the lowest qualified bidder” which is the law in Texas, he said.