In the latest twist in a long controversy, an Indiana circuit court jury on April 15 cleared structural engineer Thornton-Tomasetti Inc., New York City, of fraud charges brought by the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library, related to the troubled renovation and expansion of the city’s central library. Photo: Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library Library’s structural engineer was sued by project owner. The library project originally was budgeted at $103 million but was completed two years late, in December 2007, and as much as $50 million over budget. Other project contractors previously settled with the library for a total of $21.5 million, including
A flurry of April announcements illustrates how the White House is moving to fill top spots at federal agencies that oversee major construction programs. The designees need Senate confirmation, but the lineup is winning praise from industry officials. At the Dept. of Transportation, Obama’s pick to be under secretary for policy, Roy Kienitz, an aide to Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell (D), “is a person who hasn’t been captured by conventional thinking,” says John Doyle, special counsel for law firm Jones Walker LLP. Doyle was a lead House staffer and Kienitz a key Senate aide in drafting the 1991 Intermodal Surface
Nearly a year before an ill-fated Kodiak tower crane collapsed on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and killed two workers, China-based RTR Bearing Co. sent an e-mail to New York Crane & Equipment Corp., saying, “We don’t have confidence on this welding,” referring to a custom bearing assembly the crane owner had ordered. But New York Crane asked RTR to perform the $21,860 job anyway, according to court papers filed in conjunction with the accident. Photo: Castro & Karten LLP Plaintiffs’ photographs show where swing bearing (top) snapped away from spacer ring (bottom). Even as personal-injury lawyers are now blaming Brooklyn-based
Maryland's transportation secretary, John D. Porcari, is President Obama's choice to hold the number-two post at the U.S. Dept. of Transportation, the White House announced on April 10. His nomination is subject to Senate confirmation. PORCARI Porcari has led Maryland DOT since 2007, his second stint in the job. He also was the state agency's secretary from 1999 to 2002. Both times he served under Democratic governors. Between those two periods, Porcari was the University of Maryland's vice president for administrative affairs. Jane F. Garvey, former head of the Federal Aviation Administration and acting Federal Highway Administration chief in the
A federal investigation of impeached ex-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) has resulted on April 2 in six indictments for fraud and extortion that include construction executives. Christopher Kelly, a roofing contractor, and William Cellini, president of the Illinois Asphalt Pavement Association, were indicted along with Blagojevich, his brother, his chief of staff and a lobbyist. Cellini was similarly indicted last October.
The White House announced on April 2 that President Obama has selected Victor M. Mendez, former director of the Arizona Dept. of Transportation, to lead the Federal Highway Administration, subject to Senate confirmation. The President also chose Jo-Ellen Darcy, a long time Senate aide, as assistant secretary of the Army for civil works—the Pentagon official who oversees the Corps of Engineers—the White House said on March 31. Mendez joined Arizona DOT in 1985 as a transportation engineer and rose through the ranks to become the agency’s director in 2001. He left the top agency job in February after Jan Brewer
Jo-Ellen Darcy, a long-time Senate staffer who has specialized in water and environmental issues, will be nominated as assistant secretary of the Army for civil works, the White House announced on March 31. The assistant secretary oversees the civil works program of the Army Corps of Engineers. Darcy currently is senior environmental advisor to the Senate Finance Committee. Before that, she spent more than a decade as a staffer on the Environment and Public Works Committee, where she played a key role in drafting Corps-related legislation. Her positions on the EPW staff included senior policy advisor and deputy staff director.
Sen. Arlen Specter’s announcement that he would not support a cloture vote on the Employee Free Choice Act may stall action for now on the bill, the center of a fierce fight between labor unions and business groups. But construction union and industry officials are not ruling out a vote on the measure before Memorial Day. Major retailers now are proposing a compromise. “I won’t be satisfied that the bill is dead until Congress adjourns…in 2010,” says Stephen Sandherr, chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors, which opposes the legislation. Specter, the lone Republican to vote to close debate
President Obama has chosen J. Randolph Babbitt, former president of the Air Line Pilots Association, as his nominee to lead the Federal Aviation Administration, the White House said on March 27. Senior officials of airport associations praised Babbitt’s knowledge of the aviation industry. James C. May, president of the Air Transport Association, called him “a superb choice” for the top position at the FAA.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood continues to like the idea of a national infrastructure bank. Testifying at a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on March 24, LaHood suggested that public-private partnerships and an infrastructure bank could help supplement the Highway Trust Fund in financing major projects. “The Highway Trust Fund is simply not going to allow us to do all that we need to do,” he said. The committee hearing is part of its preparation for the next surface transportation bill. LaHood also told the panel that hiking the motor-fuels tax should be off the table. “In these hard
As the death toll from the record-setting hurricane mounts in the Bahamas and damage estimates there and in the U.S. head into the billions, industry experts see increasing pressure to address infrastructure resilience.