Universal Concrete Products and its president and co-owner, Donald Faust Jr., will pay $1 million to settle civil allegations that the firm falsified test records for concrete panels installed on Phase II of the $2.7-billion Dulles Metrorail Project. Under the settlement, announced Jan. 28, Faust did not admit to any wrongdoing.
The settlement is the latest development in the wake of a federal investigation into deficient concrete architectural panels manufactured by UCP and installed on the northern Virginia project by Capital Rail Constructors. In all, 1,569 UCP-produced panels were installed on the project by CRC, a joint venture of Clark Construction and Kiewit Infrastructure South.
In 2016, former UCP employee Nathan Davidheiser filed a whistleblower lawsuit that was investigated by the FBI and the U.S. Dept. of Transportation’s inspector general’s office.
Andrew Nolan, a former UCP quality-control manager, admitted in court that he and employees under his supervision falsified test records to make it appear that air content in deficient concrete panels was within specifications. In December, Nolan was sentenced to a year in prison and ordered to pay $1.4 million in restitution. That sum is evenly split between payments to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority and toward the whistleblower lawsuit. As the whistleblower, Davidheiser is entitled to a percentage of restitution.
Faust did not return calls for comment from ENR.
The deficient panels, which could be prone to cracking, will be treated with a sealant to reduce the chances of future deterioration. Under an agreement with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), CRC will apply a silane coating with corrosion inhibitor to the panels every ten years for 100 years.
In a statement, Keith Couch, CRC project director, said, “Capital Rail Constructors is in the process of finalizing a financial resolution with WMATA and also is pursuing recovery of costs from various sources.”
Silane coating began in December, but has been slowed due to wet and cold weather, says Charles Stark, Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project vice president. Stark notes that in addition to rain and snow, road spray from an adjacent highway can reach the panels.
Because of recent snowfalls, major local roads have been treated with salt. “It’s been a challenge to get going,” he says. “They need to pressure-wash the surface to remove dirt and salt. The panels need to dry for 48 hours.