Horry County, SCDOT is being sued over the Highway 31 project

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This July 2019 Sun News file photo shows work on the Highway 31 expansion project. When complete, the new 3.8-mile Carolina Bays Parkway will extend from SC Highway 544 and connect to SC Highway 707, allowing travelers to effectively bypass traffic along US Highway 17 through Myrtle Beach.

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A construction company involved in the third phase of the SC Highway 31 expansion in Horry County is suing the state transportation agency, saying its micromanagement cost the company millions in overruns.

According to a lawsuit filed Nov. 1, Flatiron Constructors is suing the county and SC Department of Transportation for breach of contract, interference and negligence.

According to the company, which signed a state contract in 2013 to build seven bridges on the road, also known as the Carolina Bays Parkway, it has incurred $42 million in increased costs due to repeated SC DOT missteps, including:

  • Late review of engineering plans
  • Excessive oversight and “overzealous inspection” of infrastructure
  • Requiring additional work outside of the scope of the contract
  • Failure to provide quality control and assurance for the project
  • Failure to remove employees from another subcontract that “repeatedly prevented” Flatiron from completing its work

Horry County is named in the lawsuit because officials signed an agreement with the state in 2007 that gave it oversight of the project.

Long-term plans include connecting the parkway to US 17 in North Carolina—a half-billion-dollar venture. Horry County set aside $125 million third round of its RIDE funding expand his part. Design is expected to begin in the spring.

A undated press release on Flatiron’s website gave some details about the work and noted that it should be completed by the end of 2016. In reality, however, Flatiron wasn’t ready until early November 2019.

“Crews are expected to clear 117 acres of forest over several months – but the most time-consuming work will be the construction of a bridge across the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway at the north end of the project,” the press release said. It was a 3,600 foot prefabricated concrete and steel beam.

County and SCDOT officials could not be immediately reached for comment, but an affidavit attached to the lawsuit says the DOT “fell below the standard of care” in overseeing the project.

Flatiron’s legal team retained Kevin O’Connell, an engineer with more than 40 years of experience, to review the project documents.

Flatiron is asking a judge to seek damages totaling $42 million from the county and the SC DOT.

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