9 Investigates: Expressway Authority toll lawsuit



Channel 9 investigates how the Expressway Authority is spending toll money.

On Wednesday, the Authority board agreed to spend up to $2 million to re-design a major interchange project it had already put out to bid.

Investigative reporter George Spencer has uncovered a new lawsuit, alleging that last-minute changes broke the rules and wasted toll money.

On the 417 at Boggy Creek Road, traffic congestion is expected to skyrocket with the Medical City and a new VA hospital.

But 9 investigates first exposed last month, the authority suddenly scrapped plans and threw out all bids for a major new interchange.

Channel 9 talked with area regular Billy Randolph.

"It's ridiculous. They should follow-through with what they say they're going to do," said Randolph.

A damaging new complaint alleges favoritism and multimillion dollar waste by the Authority.

Astaldi construction, the bidder which was nearly awarded the $66 million project, claims the Authority "arbitrarily, unreasonably and capriciously rejected all bids" in order to give the runner-up, SEMA construction, "another bite at the apple."

"The OOCEA's actions demonstrate clear favoritism of SEMA and are in violation of public bidding laws," the complaint states.

The complaint also said toll paying drivers who've already covered $6.7 million in design costs will get hit hard again.

"The OOCEA now intends to waste another $2 million of tax payer money to redesign and repackage the project."

And in the meantime, the roadway improvements will be delayed.

"It's going to be congested, especially with people coming from the airport, Medical City. I don't even want to think about it," said Randolph.

Astaldi is now asking a judge to force the Authority into awarding the contract as it was originally bid out.

The Authority had no immediate comment on Wednesday, since it had not yet received the complaint.

The other construction company isn't happy either. SEMA construction submitted a formal protest letter. Both companies allege the Expressway Authority made big mistakes in this process.