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The recent criticism of Wisconsin DOT by our county executive and Assembly persons is unwarranted and contrary to the facts of the reconstruction of County Highway MM.

I represent Cornerstone, and enough misinformation has been spread about the project that it should be restated: The single most important factor causing delay in the MM reconstruction was the existence of underground communication lines that were supposed to have been removed by AT&T by the spring of 2018 so Cornerstone could do its work.

When Cornerstone discovered the existence of the buried AT&T lines, it had to halt its work and wait for AT&T to remove them. AT&T’s removal took many months, finishing in the fall of 2018. This resulted in several months’ delay beyond schedule before Cornerstone could pave, dragging work into winter when it was not possible.

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The Wisconsin DOT’s reduction in the liquidated damages it had charged to Cornerstone because of this fact was completely proper, and required by contract. Liquidated damages for delay are improper when the fault for delay rests with someone or something else other than the contractor.

The Wisconsin DOT should be applauded for its recognition of the true facts and its resistance to heaping all blame on Cornerstone. Contrary to the statements quoted in The Journal Times article from Assembly representatives, holding contractors accountable does not mean wrongly blaming contractors for other parties’ conduct or unexpected project conditions. It is particularly unfortunate that our local officials are scapegoating a local company for delays chiefly prompted by AT&T’s work and extraordinarily early harsh winter conditions.

We rightly expect local officials to uplift and support local contractors, because they contribute to our community in many ways, like hiring our local residents and paying local taxes.

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Jeffrey Leavell is a Racine attorney who represents Cornerstone Pavers.

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