Citrus County Commissioners say they are committed to an aggressive road-resurfacing program.
Yet they’re hamstrung by market conditions, and so reluctantly gave a contractor a second 60-day extension on a $4.7 million contract.
Even with the extension, Commissioners have little hope Pave-Rite Inc. will come close to finishing the job, as it has completed just 7% of the work.
But they’re hoping an extension will help move things along.
“We need to give them the opportunity to right the ship,” Commissioner Jeff Kinnard said.
The county awarded Pave-Rite, a Lecanto company, a contract in January to resurface 179 residential streets. Work was to start in February and completed by July 25.
Even before the work started, though, Pave-Rite requested a 60-day extension, which the county approved, setting the completion in September.
In May, company president L. Michael Delgado sent a letter to the county asking for “leniency” on the completion schedule due to lack of aggregate materials available from his cement supplier.
The county was sympathetic but firm, saying in a response letter that other road builders in the area were not experiencing the same supply issues.
“While the market for aggregate is tight, our other contractors are making acceptable progress,” County Administrator Randy Oliver wrote.
Pave-Rite in mid-July requested a second 60-day extension to complete the work in October.
Oliver told Commissioners that Pave-Rite has completed 13 roads out of 179. He said the board could either grant the extension or default Pave-Rite on the contract and seek liquidated damages.
Commissioners opted for the former.
Commissioner Scott Carnahan said the Mexican government’s closure of a leading producer of construction aggregates has squeezed the supply chain.
“Millions of tons are just now gone,” he said. “This is nothing against Pave-Rite.”
Commissioner Kinnard agreed.
“This appears to be, on the surface, out of their control,” Kinnard said.
It’s the second time in the last 12 months that a road builder has left the county in the lurch.
Inglis-based D.A.B. Constructors defaulted on a $3.5 million road repaving contract when it went out of business and filed for bankruptcy in 2021.
Board Chairman Ron Kitchen Jr. said the situation with Pave-Rite places the county in a bind with citizens, who broadly support residential road resurfacing and are often asking when their street is next.
“We have an obligation to repave the county roads,” Kitchen said. “There’s got to be an end game to it.”