PROJECT AT PEAK Consortium wants more time to complete work, claiming the contract structure hindered construction progress.
(Photo courtesy of Tren Urbano)

Siemens Transportation Partnership in Puerto Rico has filed suit against the commonwealth’s Dept. of Transportation, seeking "urgent intervention" by the Superior Court in a dispute over completion of a 17-kilometer piece of the Tren Urbano rail line in San Juan.

The partnership, which includes a Puerto Rico-based firm and Alternate Concepts Inc., a Boston-based transportation operations consultant, wants a 284-day extension to complete its part of the $2.25-billion project. It also seeks $50 million, including nearly $10 million for work performed to accelerate the project; a $3-million judgment against PRDOT for not complying with a change order request; and $37 million in damages. Siemens also wants the court to order PRDOT to stop penalizing it for missing a Sept. 29, 2003, completion date. The department has fined the partnership $3 million and imposed $100,000 a day in liquidated damages for not completing the project on schedule.


Siemens officials claim that the problems stem from PRDOT’s structuring of the project’s design-build contact. Tren Urbano’s guideway was divided into seven segments, with design-build contracts awarded to seven contractors. Siemens was awarded one of those civil contracts. It also contracted for Tren Urbano’s train control and communication system, power and distribution and vehicle supply, among other things.

"The work done by [Siemens Transportation Team] depends to a great extent on the timely completion by other contractors in the project," says Robert Jungkind, Siemens project director. He claims that because work by other contractors was supervised by PRDOT, the company had no control over their operations or schedule. "Construction of the other sections covered by the other contracts did not proceed as scheduled and was consistently delayed for hundreds of days," the lawsuit claims. PRDOT granted extensions to the civil contractors but refused to apply those extensions to Siemens, says the suit.

Siemens officials would not comment further on the lawsuit, claiming prohibitions under its contract. PRDOT also declined comment.

Tren Urbano is a high-profile design-build demonstration project for the U.S. Federal Transit Administration. It is being used to assess the value of the design-build delivery method on federally supported transit jobs. But FTA declines comment on the problems associated with the multi-contract approach to design-build. "We are not doing in-depth interviews now,’’ says spokeswoman Drucie Anderson. If granted the extension, Tren Urbano should be ready for operations by July 10.