After weeks of public outcry and scrutiny by VDOT over the pothole debacle on I-264, the company is throwing in the towel, saying they no longer want the job.
Those close to the discussions tell NewsChannel 3 the announcement by TME came during a meeting with VDOT officials about the status of the new contract, set to start on May 15th.
“I don’t think VDOT was planning on giving anybody a contract, I think they were just discussing with them what changes would be necessary,” said Commonwealth Transportation Board Member Aubrey Layne.
Layne was one of those that demanded those changes in TME's contract after the February 8th pothole emergency, where state troopers shut down parts of I-264 in Norfolk, deeming the road too dangerous to drive.
The board was to decide TME's fate at their monthly meeting next week, as well as vote on potential changes to the structure of future maintenance contracts.
“Potentially, that did not fit what the contractor was looking for and that’s why they are walking away,” said Layne. “The performance by both parties was unacceptable. It had to change. I’ve seen where at least VDOT solved problems and are dealing with it. I have not seen the same from the contractor,” said Layne.
This news is just the latest in a series of actions by TME as they start to cut ties with VDOT.
Wednesday, Matt Ehrenzeller, TME’s president, notified the agency of their intent to claim $250,000 a week for emergency pothole repair work, totaling $1.25 million.
“That contractor has other contracts with VDOT around the state. I would suspect they would consider that relationship in making that decision, but at the end of the day, it will be a contractual matter. If it’s not settled, it will be left up to courts to adjudicate,” said Layne.
So what happens next?
With TME planning on packing up on May 14th, would our roads be left unattended until a new contract is secured?
“I understand that’s not the case, that there would be an extension of the current contract to give VDOT time to go out and rebid the contract,” said Layne.
IF TME doesn’t stay on for longer, then VDOT could always step in with their resources, according to Layne.
“Even though VDOT is mandated to outsource this, they have resources in-house for limited periods of time that they can cover this and make sure there is an orderly transition,” said Layne.
All of this week’s development on the pothole fallout will be a big topic of discussion at the CTB board meeting, set for March 20th.
All of our VDOT and Pothole coverage can be found HERE.