Contractor abandons Ulmerton Road widening project in Largo

LARGO, Fla. (WFLA) — Frustrated motorists already call a construction-plagued stretch of Ulmerton Road in Largo “Orange Barrel Boulevard.” They’ve even created a Facebook page to share their gripes. 

Wait until they find out the contractor who’s been moving at a snail’s pace for the past four years on that widening project has just “voluntarily” abandoned it.

“Unfortunately the contractor has voluntarily defaulted which means he has voluntarily walked away from the job,” said Florida DOT Spokeswoman Kris Carson. That’s a nice way of saying Conalvias U.S.A., LLC has financially gone belly up.

That means Conalvias has abandoned the $23 million Ulmerton Road project along with two other DOT road projects in Arcadia and North Port.

“Gee, that’s a shocker,” said commuter Dina DiMaria. “Never saw anybody working anyway.”

Conalvias official declared itself in default January 15th, leaving the DOT and the company’s insurer scrambling to find another contractor who will finish work on the 2.28 mile long stretch of road. Prince Contracting, a Tampa-based company has stepped up and is mow mobilizing its own crews according to Carson.

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“They’re doing some night work they have one or two crews right now we’ve bene told by next week they’ll be bringing in more crews so we can get this job done by the summer hopefully,” Carson said.

Last November, Carson told 8 on Your Side the project would wrap up by January. Now she’s predicting this summer. But managers at Prince aren’t committing to anything until they get a grip on what still needs to be done.

Conalvias’ parent company, based in South America has reportedly run into financial troubles internationally and ran short of resources and manpower in the Ulmerton job, despite collecting more than $19 million from the DOT since December 2011 and monthly payouts that amounted about a $1 million in December alone, just before the company stopped work.

In theory, Conalvias insurance company is on the hook for any added expenses to finish the work and the company can’t take on any more state projects. “Right now this contractor Conalvias will be disqualified from bidding in the State of Florida,” Carson said.

Little of that matters to DiMaria. She just wants to commute to her job without weaving through a gantlet of obstacles in a construction zone that seems frozen in time. “Orange Barrel Boulevard needs to go away,” DiMaria said.

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Frustrated commuter Dina DiMaria.
Frustrated commuter Dina DiMaria.

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