UPDATE Sept. 7, 9:08 a.m.
The Indiana Finance Authority issued a letter of non-compliance to I-69 Development Partners Tuesday after learning the developer owes more than $9 million in undisputed amounts to subcontractors.
The letter comes after at least one subcontractor, Crider and Crider, stopped work on Section 5 because of lack of payment. According to the IFA’s letter, I-69 Development Partners owes the subcontractor more than $2.3 million. The letter says other subcontractors are threatening to leave the project.
I-69 Development Partners’ failure to pay subcontractors on time is a breach of its public-private agreement with the state. According to the agreement, if the developer doesn’t resolve the issue in 30 days it will result in a default.
Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton says at least one major I-69 Section 5 subcontractor walked off the project Friday due to an ongoing pay dispute.
Work on Section 5, the section of interstate from Bloomington to Martinsville, was delayed earlier this year because of similar issues, pushing the completion date from October to June 2017. The private developer I-69 Development Partners is responsible for designing, building, financing, operating and maintaining that portion of interstate through a public-private agreement.
“I called Friday and spoke to the commissioner of the Department of Transportation, I spoke to the director of the Indiana Finance Authority and I said, ‘I believe you need to step in and make sure people get paid so they can keep doing the work,’” Hamilton says. “I told both of them in no uncertain terms my view is you need to step up, make sure the payments happen, fight about it later.”
Rep. Matt Pierce, D-Bloomington, wrote a letter to Gov. Mike Pence Friday asking for answers about the ongoing delays. Pierce says he also received information about multiple subcontractors abandoning the project last week after not being paid.
“That caused me to want to ask the governor who oversees INDOT and the Indiana Finance Authority and this project, what is going on with this project,” Pierce says.
Pierce says the public-private partnership between the state and I-69 Development Partners lacks transparency. He wants to see the state take back control of the project so Section 5 can be completed in a timely fashion.
“For my constituents who use that road a lot to get from here to Indianapolis, for the business community that relies on it for regional commerce and just for safety … all of that is a reason to get this project done,” Pierce says.
When asked about the dispute and whether subcontractors walked off the project, spokesman for the Indiana Department of Transportation Will Wingfield said in an email that staff from the Indiana Finance Authority saw contractors working on Section 5 Tuesday.
“The state is closely monitoring I-69 Development Partners and enforcing compliance with its contract,” Wingfield said.
The city held a meeting with INDOT in August to get an update on the project, but Hamilton says many of his questions remain unanswered.
“These are citizens’ tax dollars that are paying for this project, and we need to know what’s going on,” Hamilton says. “We need to know why 100-plus workers are not, on a beautiful day like today when we should be getting work done — they’re off the job. That’s a failure, and we need to understand.”
The Indiana Finance Authority directed questions about Section 5 contractors to Isolux Corsan, a contractor for I-69 Development Partners. The company would not comment Tuesday.
Hamilton will hold a press conference Wednesday about I-69 Section 5 delays.