At a special meeting Thursday afternoon, the Williston City Commission voted to terminate the contract of the contractor hired to construct the taxiway at the new Williston Basin International Airport.
After hearing statements from City Administrator David Tuan, Airport Director Anthony Dudas and representatives from Ulteig Engineering, the commission determined that J.M. Marshuetz was in breach of contract regarding the timeline on their work on the airport's taxiway.
"What we have before us is a pretty unique situation," Tuan told city commissioners. "The taxiway A contract on XWA is so far behind schedule that we're concerned it will jeopardize the opening of the airport."
Tuan said that all contractor teams working on the airport project had faced difficult challenges in regards to the project, citing constrained timelines and weather-related issues that have made the site difficult to access at times. He further explained that the work executed by J.M. Marshuetz in particular had fallen behind to the point that in the opinion of the city and engineers involved, the contractors would not be able to meet the city's deadline to open the airport in October 2019.
Tuan went further to explain that the city had tried to work with J.M. Marshuetz to accelerate work on the contract and give them the opportunity to show that they could bring the contract back on schedule, but that they had failed to do so.
"To date, the work completed is so minuscule that we're really concerned about getting the amount of work necessary in order to meet those objectives and guidelines that we've set forth with the FAA." he said.
To date, the company had only completed about 9 percent of the work they were contracted for. J.M. Marshuetz had been contracted to have the taxiway completed by November.
Tuan recommended to the commission that J.M. Marshuetz be declared in breach of contract by failing to meet the timeline terms, and recommended that the commission pursue negotiations with Northern Improvement, the second-lowest bidder for the project, to bring the contract back within the schedule to open XWA on Oct. 10, 2019.
According to Airport Director Dudas, J.M. Marshuetz informed the city on June 1 that they estimated they would need more than $276,000 more to meet the completion date of November 2018. The project itself had been estimated to cost $7,390,387.10, with $643,618.85 already paid for work completed.
Dudas stated that it was requested that the contractors provide the city with a schedule for completion with and without the acceleration costs J.M. Marshuetz had provided. He added that the estimated date of completion without the acceleration costs pushed the timeline from November 2018 to September 2019.
According to Roger Leonard of Ulteig Engineering, pushing the taxiway completion to September 2019 puts the planned opening of the new airport in jeopardy, adding that the next available window to open the airport may not be until spring or summer of 2020.
Dudas informed that commission that with the information provided by J.M. Marshuetz, as well as assessments from Ulteig Engineering and KLJ, he recommended termination of the contract.
After hearing from Roger Leonard and Lee Underwood, engineers with Ulteig, the commission voted unanimously to terminate the contract with J.M. Marshuetz and pursue negotiations for completion of the taxiway on schedule with Northern Improvement.