You Paid For It: DOT insists $5 million extra for I-75 Sarasota interchange is not a bonus


SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Don’t call it a “bonus.” That’s very upsetting to the Florida DOT.

State DOT road construction managers prefer to call the $5 million extra that Prince Contracting stands to collect for finishing the new Diverging Diamond interchange at I-75 and University Parkway in Sarasota an “incentive.”

“A bonus is a complete surprise,” said DOT District 1 spokesman Rubin Stublen. “An incentive has predetermined objectives in writing on when you’re going to get that money.”

The specific “incentive” is that if Prince Contracting finishes that $74.5 million project by the end of next July it will receive an extra $5 million, a sum reduced by $200,000 a day until the incentive is gone. If Prince doesn’t finish by the original August deadline, penalties reducing the original contract amount could result. Prince beat five other contractors with the low bid in this project and is now hastening to complete it.

Whether it’s a “bonus” or an ‘incentive” FDOT is eager to finish this project in time for the World Rowing Championships at nearby Nathan Benderson Park. To get the extra money, the interchange has to be operational, not necessarily complete with the final coat of asphalt. Work will stop to accommodate the crowds that show up for the World Rowing Championships that run from September 24, 2017 through October 1, 2017.

Stublen insists the project’s completion prior to the Championship is a high priority of Manatee and Sarasota counties as well as the state lawmakers who represent those areas. Local tourism promoters estimate the racing championship will result in $12 million in direct spending and possibly twice that much in indirect economic impact for the area.

Stublen cites several examples where the FDOT  has used smaller cash incentives to speed along other road projects ranging from $100,000 extra for a $1.1 million emergency repair to a $3.5 million cash incentive on a $72 million road project in the dozen Southwest Florida counties that fall under FDOT District 1 territory.

In this case, Stublen insists the $5 million incentive cash is money well spent. “It’s our money, it’s my money, it’s yours, it’s the camera man’s money,” Stublen said. “And we’re good stewards of that money.”

While “bonuses” may be a surprise in Stublen’s book, delayed DOT projects are often the rule, not the exception in Florida. In one case a two mile long road widening project on Ulmerton Road in Largo has now dragged on four more than four and half years and still isn’t quite finished. The original contractor defaulted on that project and Prince is finishing the work. Whatever you call the extra millions that Prince stands to earn on the Diverging Diamond interchange in Sarasota, if it finishes by July 29, 2017 You’ll Pay Extra For it.

RELATED: I-75 ‘Diverging Diamond’ project over half way complete provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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