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Christiansburg responds to builder lawsuit, says town is entitled to $209,250 in damages

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North Franklin Street in Christiansburg has undergone extensive upgrades and changes—and now there’s litigation over the most recent work.

CHRISTIANSBURG — The town is denying many of the allegations made in a lawsuit that Roanoke-based Allegheny Construction Co. Inc. filed over a project that sought to improve traffic flow in the area around the intersection of North Franklin and Cambria streets.

Christiansburg filed a response this past week to the lawsuit from Allegheny, which is seeking $700,721 from the town. Allegheny alleges in a complaint filed in Montgomery County Circuit Court that the plans prepared by the engineering firm for the project were “replete with errors and omissions” that significantly impacted the builder’s capacity to finish the work on the original schedule approved by the town and builder.

The town, however, states in its counterclaim that it’s entitled to damages in the amount of $209,250 due to Allegheny’s failure to achieve “substantial completion” on the project within the time allowed by the construction contract.

Allegheny’s “failure to complete the work in the time allowed by the contract is a breach of the contract,” reads the document filed by the town, which added that the builder is required to pay $1,350 for “each day of delay in achieving substantial completion.”

Christiansburg also states the builder should be required to pay $675 for each day of delay in achieving “final completion,” which the town said Allegheny needed to reach by June 18, 2020. Instead, the town wrote in court documents, final completion didn’t occur until Oct. 26 of last year.

“Thus, without justification or excuse, [Allegheny] was 149 days late in reaching substantial completion and 12 days late in achieving final completion,” reads the town’s counterclaim.

The town included a copy of the construction contract with its recently filed court documents. The contract explains the conditions for the so-called substantial completion.

“Substantial completion will be recognized when all other contract requirements for substantial completion are met and when all final surface paving has been placed, all concrete sidewalks and curb have been installed, traffic is in final configuration with final pavement marking, traffic signals are operational (not to include 30-day demonstration testing) and all project lighting is operational,” according to the copy of the contract the town provided.

The case between Christiansburg and Allegheny stems from a roughly $8.5 million project that made a number of adjustments and upgrades in and around the complex intersection of North Franklin and Cambria streets.

The intersection had long been a priority for town officials, some of whom had long spoken about its original design issues.

The project included ramp modifications, new turn lanes, sidewalks, bike lanes and the addition of new traffic lights—one on the southbound side of North Franklin just before it crosses Cambria and another farther down the roadway at the intersection near the Waffle House.

Among other changes resulting from the project, motorists traveling southbound on North Franklin can now directly turn left on Cambria. Previously, drivers who looked to turn left on Cambria would first exit North Franklin before turning left next to the Christiansburg Recreation Center—a requirement that contributed to the traffic backups in that area and in the rec center’s parking lot.

Money for the upgrades came through the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Smart Scale program, a competitive initiative that offers state funding to local transportation projects. Christiansburg itself contributed just under $13,000.

Another point raised in Christiansburg’s response to the lawsuit is the engineering contract with the firm McCormick Taylor.

Christiansburg states in its response that McCormick Taylor, due to a section in the engineering contract, agreed to indemnify and hold the town harmless for “liabilities, damages, losses and costs … to the extent caused by the negligent acts, recklessness or intentional wrongful misconduct of McCormick Taylor and persons employed or utilized by it.”

Continuing, town’s response reads: “Accordingly, McCormick Taylor is liable to the town for all of [Allegheny’s] claim against the town.” Also, the town then says the engineering firm should defend the locality and hold it harmless for the matters alleged in Allegheny’s lawsuit.

Christiansburg also disputes Allegheny’s claims and denies the company’s entitlement to any damages.

“To the extent that the town is found to be liable to plaintiff, it will be because of McCormick Taylor’s errors and omissions, which constitute a breach of the engineering contract,” reads the court document.

Attorneys for Christiansburg and Allegheny didn’t return requests for comment this past week—Stan Barnhill, who represents Allegheny, previously declined to comment on the case.

McCormick Taylor has yet to return a request for comment on the matter.

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