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Which Type of Construction Delay: Excusable, Compensable, or Critical?

law delayed projects

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Back Charges , Payment Disputes

When construction delay claims become necessary, it's important to identify and classify the delay and to anticipate potential defenses to the claim.

Construction delays are among the most common disputes that arise on projects. However, the process of establishing and proving a delay claim can get complicated quickly. That’s why having a comprehensive understanding of the necessary elements to justify a delay claim can be a priceless advantage. At the same time, understanding the ins and outs of delay claims can also help construction businesses defend against improper claims, too.

Table of Contents

Types of Construction Delay Claims

To determine the impact, the delay must be appropriately classified. This is a tiered classification system, it involves answering one question, then moving on to the next. The main types of schedule delays on a construction project are:

Critical vs. Non-Critical

Excusable vs. inexcusable.

The construction agreement will typically contain provisions that describe when these delay claims apply, and the notification process required in the event of a delay.

This is the first and most important question to answer: Was the delay critical or non-critical?

A critical delay is one that will affect the project completion date (or some other important milestone date on a project). Critical delays can’t really be made up – they just tack on extra time. Non-critical delays will affect the completion of specific activities, but not the completion date or the date of some important milestone. The determining factor is whether the delay extends the Critical Path of the project .

A CPM schedule will set out a timeline of the most extended activities throughout the project. It will establish the minimum amount of time it will take to complete these “critical” activities. These critical activities need to be performed at specific times and in a particular order to allow the next critical phase to begin.

If the delay has no effect on the project’s critical path, then the delay is non-critical and may involve a simple change order to correct the delay.

Text explaining the difference between critical and non-critical delays

Once you have determined if the delay is critical or not, you will need to establish whether the delay is an excusable one . An excusable delay is one that allows the contractor an extension of time, compensation, or both.

Why?  Because these delays are out of the contractor’s control . The common excusable delays should be outlined in your construction agreement .

The most natural example of excusable delays is when a delay falls under a force majeure clause – events such as natural disasters or terrorist attacks. Excusable delays can also result from errors or omissions in the plans or even simple issues that were caused by the client .

Inexcusable delays are those where the contractor was entirely responsible for extending the project’s duration. If this is the case, then the contractor will be liable for any costs or damages caused by the delay . This can be a result of delayed mobilization, late submissions, failure to obtain permitting (if they’re responsible for it), or general poor planning on behalf of the contractor.

Text explaining the difference between excusable and inexcusable construction delays

Compensable vs. Non-Compensable Delays

Lastly, is the delay a compensable one? When a delay is  “compensable,” that means the party affected by the delay should be given either an extension of time or compensation for the delay of their work.

All excusable delays are compensable. This means that any time a delay is considered “excusable,” the contractor will generally have a claim for a time extension, compensation, or both! If the contractor is solely at fault, the delay will very likely be non-compensable. Non-compensable delays can fall under any of the other categories, depending on the situation and contract terms.

Text explaining the difference between compensable and non-compensable delays

Legal Damages for Construction Delays

If a schedule delay causes a financial impact to a party on the project, they may seek damages through a breach of contract claim .

Damages claimed by a contractor

For owner-caused delays (or those caused by another contractor), a contractor may have a claim for:

Related reading: A guide to common construction claims

Damages claimed by an owner

When a contractor is at fault for a delay, an owner may have a claim for:

We buy the supplies, you get to work.

Right to Finish Early

Even if your work was ahead of schedule, you might still have a valid delay claim. Let’s say you had planned on finishing work earlier than the contract completion date, but encountered an owner-caused delay. You may still finish on time — but you were still delayed! And worse yet, all the costs you intended on saving by completing early are now lost. The owner benefited from not having to pay out for delays because you were prudent and ahead of schedule.

So if a contractor at the outset of the project, (a) intended to complete the contract early, (b) could do so and (c) would have finished ahead of schedule but-for the owner’s actions – they could still have a valid delay claim !

5 Defenses to Construction Delay Claims

Whether a construction business is making a delay claim or defending against one, it’s important to know what factors might affect the viability of a delay claim. Here are some of the more prominent defenses against a delay claim on a construction project.

Text explaining the 5 most common defenses to construction delay claims

Concurrent Delay

A concurrent delay occurs when multiple activities affect the project’s timeline, but the delays don’t precisely stack on top of each other. That doesn’t necessarily mean the delays have to happen at the exact same time to be considered concurrent.

Instead, if multiple delays do occur and they each independently impact the completion date, the delays can be regarded as concurrent – at least to some degree. If a delay truly is concurrent with some other delay on the project, then that can be used as an argument against compensating for the accused delay. Proving that a delay was concurrent often requires extensive expert analysis and documentation evidence. The challenge here is how to allocate the amount and of fault and liability of each party.

No Damages for Delay Clause

Because delays are so prevalent in the construction industry, construction contracts often include a no damages for delay clause (a.k.a. no pay for delay). This essentially declares that delays are all part of the business, and any costs associated with them should be written off. The result? Eat any losses, request a time extension, then move on.

Enforceability of these clauses varies depending on the jurisdiction. Most states have prohibited or at least limited these provisions – so be sure you know how your state handles these. If a no damages for delay clause is allowed, there are still certain exceptions to enforceability.

Some exceptions might be where delays:

In one case in California, a subcontractor won their claim against the GC after scope changes and defective materials caused project delays — even though their subcontract contained a “no damages for delay” clause.

Improper Notice

Construction contracts are chock-full of notice requirements. Most courts take these notice provisions seriously: no notice, no claim . Contractors should familiarize themselves with these from the outset of the project. Any time a delay is encountered, send a project delay letter to the GC or owner immediately. It also helps to provide photos, documentation, or other reports to support the complaint. Where notice is required, but not sent, even the most worthy of construction delay claims can falter. It’s imperative to understand what notice is required under the contract and when that notice must be sent.

Learn more : How to Write a Notice of Delay for a Construction Project

Time is of the Essence

This is a peculiar one, but it could definitely affect a claim. A “time is of the essence” clause means that the contract will hold everyone responsible for completing the agreed upon work by the agreed upon time. Seems obvious, right? Still, if “time is of the essence”  language is in the contract, that means that any delay (even minor ones) could be considered a material breach of the contract!

Force Majeure Events

We touched on these earlier. If the contract does have a force majeure clause, it will typically list a few triggering events like floods or fires. However, other events can fall under this category as well. Force majeure generally covers any occurrences that were (a) not reasonably foreseeable at the time of contracting, (b) beyond the control of the parties, and (c) not caused or compounded by negligence. Consequently, when one of these events occur, performance will either be suspended or excused depending on the contract terms and the duration of the disruption.


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What Legal Options Do You Have with Delayed Construction Projects?

Construction lien

Every contractor knows that having something unexpected come up on a construction project is more a rule than an exception. The more complex and high-end the project, the more likely it is—change orders, supply delays, and other factors outside of your control can make a job drag on well past its projected completion date. But what happens when the project owner blames you and refuses to pay? Understanding the factors that form the basis of a valid claim for a construction delay and how you can protect yourself with a well-written contract can help reduce the likelihood that you’ll end up fighting an unfair claim in court or walking away from a project without full payment.

What Caused the Delay?

A building or remodeling of a commercial project or a luxury home is a complicated proposition: coordinating subcontractors in the right sequence, making sure all required materials are on hand at the right time, coping with unexpected conditions at the site, and integrating change orders into the original plans. Sometimes all of this can be accomplished without extending the timeline of the project. However, when it can’t, you may be threatened with legal action by a frustrated client. Just because a project runs long, however, does not mean they have a valid basis for a claim. The three factors that go into determining if there are grounds for a claim are:

If the project owner feels that your actions (or inactions) caused a delay that could have been avoided, they may attempt to sue you for breach of contract. Whether they’re able to successfully move ahead with such a claim can depend on how well the factors above are addressed in your construction contract.

Protecting Your Rights

A contract with the right protections in place is one of the best ways to both set expectations for a project and make it less likely you’ll end up in court over a disagreement with your client. Among the most important elements to address in your agreement are:

Time frame: The overall time frame agreed to in the contract should be reasonable for the amount of work included in the original plans. Dates for notice to proceed, start of construction, and project completion should be laid out, as well as exceptions for delays outside of your control.

Consult an Experienced Construction Law Attorney Before Problems Arise

Too often builders find out their contracts offer inadequate protection the hard way—when their clients withhold payment or initiate legal action over delays that weren’t the builder’s fault. Whether you’re hoping to avoid this outcome, or you’ve already been dragged into a legal dispute, Ghassemian Law Group can help. Our experienced construction prevention attorneys can draft the right contract and guide you through the course of construction. On the other hand, if you find yourself faced with a lawsuit, our litigation attorneys have the expertise to vigorously defend your rights, seeking the most cost-effective resolution possible in your case and guarding against legal missteps that could hurt your chances of getting properly compensated. To find out how we can protect you before things go wrong, call us today.

This article is informational only and meant to provide guidance. It is not meant to be legal advice and it does not create an attorney-client relationship. For what to do in your specific situation, please consult with a qualified Construction Law attorney .

This article is informational only and meant to provide guidance. It is not meant to be legal advice and it does not create an attorney-client relationship. For what to do in your specific situation, please consult with a qualified Construction Law attorney.

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Delays in construction—a common source of claims, by kevin o'beirne, pe, fcsi, ccs, ccca, cdt posted 07-30-2021 10:44 am.

The most common sources of change proposals and claims in construction are likely owner-ordered changes in the work, differing site conditions, and delays. This blog post presents a general overview of delays in construction.

Types of Delays

Construction delays are typically apportioned into three principal categories:

Delays within the contractor’s control typically include delays resulting from the acts or inactions of the contractor, its subcontractors or suppliers of any tier, or anyone for whom any of them are responsible. Why the contractor has responsibility for delays by its subcontractors and suppliers is discussed in this blog post’s section on risk allocations. Other types of delays within the contractors control include delays resulting from ineffective project management, time required to remedy defective work, and other matters within the contractor’s control or responsibility.

Delays within the owner’s control include delays resulting from owner-ordered changes in the work and acts or inactions by the owner or facility manager, owner-hired design professional, construction manager as advisor (CMa), others hired by the owner (such as entities performing code-required special inspections and tests, program manager, and other owner-hired consultants), utility owners or transportation facility owners retained by the owner to perform certain work at or adjacent to the site, and other construction contractors retained by the owner for work at or adjacent to the site. On the premise of allocating contractual risk to the party best able to control that risk, the owner is responsible for delays caused by its employees, consultants, and contractors. The owner is also responsible for delays resulting from differing site conditions; the rationale for this is discussed in this post’s section on risk allocations.

Delays over which neither party has control are often termed “force majeure events” (literally, “uncontrollable force”) and often include: severe and unavoidable natural catastrophes such as fires, floods, epidemics, earthquakes, and volcanic activity; abnormal weather conditions; acts of war or terrorism; certain acts by governmental entities, such as embargoes and trade sanctions; labor disputes to which the contractor is not a direct party or a direct contributor; acts or failures to act of third-party utility owners, owners of transportation facilities, or other third-party entities (other than those hired by the owner for work at or adjacent to the site);; and perhaps others. What is considered a force majeure event often varies by contract. Perhaps the most common type of force majeure event cited in delay claims is abnormal weather, for which additional information is available here .

https://www.ejcdc.org/force-majeure-events-abnormal-weather-uncontrollable-delays-construction-project-contributed-kevin-obeirne-pe-vice-chair-ejcdc/#:~:text=Construction%20delays%20that%20are%20the,chance%20occurrence%2C%20unavoidable%20accident ”.

Location within the Contract Documents

While various provisions of the construction contract documents may allocate specific risks for certain types of delays, the principal clauses allocating such risks are typically in the general conditions, including:

CSI MasterFormat —2020 does not allocate any document or specification section numbers or titles for delays although, relative to the general topic of delays, it assigns “01 26 00 – Contract Modification Procedures” and “01 32 16 – Construction Progress Schedule”.

Allocation of Risk of Delays

Standard general conditions in widespread use in the United States generally allocate risk of delays as follows:

Delays by subcontractors and suppliers are a frequent source of disagreement between owners and contractors. For example, when a supplier delivers materials or equipment late, perhaps caused by delays at the manufacturer’s production facility or delays in shipping, the contractor may not have much actual control over the matter. Similarly, a contractor may have little control over whether a subcontractor shows up onsite to perform as scheduled. However, based on the principle of allocating risk to the party best able to control that risk, the contractor has greater ability to control its subcontractors and suppliers than does the owner.

Furthermore, occasionally, delays in delivering materials or equipment to the site or delays by a subcontractor arise from the contractor’s action or inaction, such as late authorization of subcontracts or purchase orders, insufficient communications or ineffective management of subcontractors or suppliers, or delayed payment to subcontractors and suppliers. For these reasons, the risk of delay by subcontractors and suppliers is, unless a “force majeure event,” the contractor’s responsibility..

Differing site conditions is a common cause of delay for which the owner is typically responsible. While some owners may perhaps believe they have no control over unforeseen conditions discovered during construction, such as differing subsurface conditions or the discovery of hazardous materials at the site, for most project delivery methods, such risk is allocated to the owner because the owner selected the site and furnished the contractor the construction drawings and specifications (i.e., the Spearin Doctrine). In design-build projects, there is usually increased risk for differing site conditions (and their associated delays) allocated to the design-builder, because the design-builder is responsible for appropriately investigating the site and preparing the design accordingly.

A basic concept in allocating the risk of delays is that the contractor is entitled to additional time only when the delay has adversely affected the contractor’s ability to comply with the contract times. When the delayed work is not on the construction progress schedule’s critical path and the delay is less than the available float in the schedule, the contractor is not entitled to additional contract time. However, even when delayed work is not on the construction progress schedule’s critical path, there may be potential for the delay to result in additional compensation to the contractor. For example, where work not on the critical path is delayed for reasons within the owner’s control and requires continuation onsite of a $500-per-hour crane that would otherwise have been demobilized from the site, the contractor may be entitled to additional compensation for the extended rental.

Because the types of delays and their associated risk allocations discussed above are so fundamental and widely-accepted in the design, construction, and legal communities, drafters of construction contracts are well-advised to reconsider the wisdom of attempting to modify them. Because contractual risk cannot be transferred without an associated cost, any such change is likely to affect the prices bid or proposed to the project owner.

Perhaps the most extreme type of fundamental change in delay risk allocations are “no damages for delay” clauses, which are relatively common in non-standard contracts unique to certain owners. Such clauses prohibit the contractor from receiving additional compensation for owner-caused delays. Unsurprisingly, “no damages for delay” clauses are strongly disliked by contractors and are, in this writer’s opinion, unfair. When included in a construction contract, such clauses almost certainly result in increased prices bid or proposed to the owner or may reduce competition among prospective bidders. Although “no damages for delay” clauses may be “legal”, courts and arbitrators have poked lots of holes in them; as just one example, Kalisch-Jarcho, Inc. v. City of New York (New York State Court of Appeals, 58 N.Y.2d 377,  March 28, 1983).

Contractor arguments against “no damages for delay” clauses often assert the common law concept of “actie interference” by the owner. Such cases often allege the owner’s negligent or willful interfernce with the contractor’s ability to fulfill its contract time obligations.

Concurrent Delays

Before using a “no damages for delay” clause, the person or entity drafting the construction contract should obtain the owner’s consent to including the clause, and should advise the owner to consult with the owner’s legal counsel on the advisability of using such a provision.

A common source of disagreement concerning construction delays is concurrent delays , where two or more separate delays overlap. Causes of concurrent delays are often attributable to each party. An example of a concurrent delay is where part of the contractor’s work was behind schedule, perhaps due to a subcontractor or supplier, or inefficient project management, and the owner orders a change in another part of the work (which was not behind schedule) that also adversely affects the contractor’s ability to comply with the contract times. Impartially determining rights to additional time and compensation in concurrent delays is often challenging. Each party typically asserts the other party was the primary cause of the delay and should be responsible for the risk.

Unless the contract expressly allocates risk for concurrent delays, courts and arbitrators typically rule the owner-caused delay governs, resulting in the contractor being entitled to additional time and compensation for the owner-caused delay, even when the work was already behind schedule. For this reason, to preserve the owner’s rights to recover damages for late completion, owners and their consultants should take appropriate steps to reduce the potential for concurrent, owner-caused delays.

To continue the above hypothetical example, assume the work was 30 days beyond schedule on June 1 and further schedule slippage was anticipated, so the work will be completed 45 days beyond the contract times. The contract includes liquidated damages for late completion. On June 1, the owner ordered changes in other work that was otherwise on schedule. The owner-ordered changes would cause the changed work to be completed 28 days beyond the current contract times. Many owners and design professionals may assume, because the contractor was already going to complete the work 45 days late anyway, no extension of the contract times or additional compensation for delay costs is necessary for the changed work. The owner and design professional assume the changed work will require a change in price only for the value of the changed work itself.

In our example, absent a contract clause to the contrary, the contractor will likely contend, and a court or an arbitrator would likely agree, the contractor is due a 28-day time extension plus 28 days’ delay costs, and the value of the changed work itself. The contractor would likely be responsible for the remaining 17 days of delay until all the work is completed. Thus, the contractor is likely to not only be compensated for 28 days of delay costs, but the owner will also be entitled to only 17, rather than 45, days of liquidated damages. This is perhaps an over-simplified example and various facts and contract clauses would influence the outcome of a similar situation on an actual project.

To this writer’s knowledge, among the standard construction contracts in widespread use in the United States, only EJCDC C-700—2018, Paragraph 4.05.D.2, expressly addresses concurrent delays, as follows:

“2.  Contractor shall not be entitled to an adjustment in Contract Price for any delay, disruption, or interference if such delay is concurrent with a delay, disruption, or interference caused by or within the control of Contractor. Such a concurrent delay by Contractor shall not preclude an adjustment of Contract Times to which Contractor is otherwise entitled.”

Thus, EJCDC splits the risk of concurrent delays by denying the contractor compensation for the cost of concurrent delays, but providing for additional time for the concurrent delay attributable to the owner. The latter relieves the contractor from liability for liquidated and other damages for late completion for the concurrent delay attributable to the owner.

Contractually precluding the contractor’s right to additional compensation (as indicated in EJCDC C-700—2018 Paragraph 4.05.D.2), or additional contract time, for concurrent delays is a fundamental risk allocation that will likely result in higher prices bid to the owner.

Entitlement in Delay Claims

When submitting a delay claim, the claimant must clearly assert the type of delay and demonstrate how and to the extent that the delay was the opposing party’s responsibility. Such claims must clearly indicate the time extent of the delay and the added costs incurred. The project record and facts surrounding the delay must clearly demonstrate that the delay was outside of the claimant’s contractual responsibility and was, therefore, outside of the claimant’s control.

Delay claims are often contentious and difficult to evaluate, especially when insufficient documentation is available in the project record. As discussed more fully in prior posts on this blog, the claimant must support its claim with clear language and appropriate documentation , submitted in accordance with the contract’s requirements for change proposals and claims, and the entity determining entitlement should be ethical and impartial .



In evaluating delay claims, it is essential to identify the cause(s) of the delay and correlate them with the facts surrounding the delay and the contract’s allocation of the risk of delays. When the claimant is contractually entitled to relief, the next step is to determine the appropriate changes in the contract times and compensation, if any. A discussion of the details of evaluating delay claims is, however, beyond the scope of this blog post.


Because delays are one of the most common types of construction change proposals and claims, it is very important for owners, contractors, and construction contract administrators to understand the basic types of delays and the contractual risk allocations of each, and to properly enforce the contract relative to change proposals and claims for delays.

Copyright 2021 by Kevin O’Beirne

The content of this blog post is by the author alone and should not be attributed to any other individual or entity.

Kevin O’Beirne, PE, FCSI, CCS, CCCA is a professional engineer licensed in NY and PA with over 30 years of experience designing and constructing water and wastewater infrastructure for public and private clients.  He is the engineering specifications manager for a global engineering and architecture design firm.  He is a member of various CSI national committees and is the certification chair of CSI’s Buffalo-Western New York Chapter.  He is an ACEC voting delegate in the Engineers Joint Contract Documents Committee (EJCDC) and lives and works in the Buffalo NY area.  Kevin O’Beirne’s LinkedIn page . 

Kevin O'Beirne, PE, FCSI, CCS, CCCA, CDT 08-02-2021 09:19 AM

law delayed projects

David Metzger, FCSI, Member Emeritus, CDT, FAIA, SCIP 07-31-2021 10:36 AM

law delayed projects

This was an interesting and informative article.

For delays caused by a subcontractor or supplier, as in the examples you noted, a contractor could claim against the subcontractor for recovery. That would be a private matter between the contractor and their subcontractor, and there would be no reason for the owner or A/E to be involved with such a claim.

The following provisions are from AIA A421 – 2018 Standard Form of Master Agreement Between Contractor and Subcontractor where Work is provided under multiple Work Orders. I haven’t checked, but I’d expect that the corresponding agreement forms from EJCDC, DBIA, and ConsensusDocs have similar provisions.

ARTICLE 8 CLAIMS AND DISPUTES § 8.1 Subject to Section s 8.2 and 8.3, any claim, dispute, or other matter in question arising out of or related to the Subcontract shall be subject to the same dispute resolution provisions as set forth in the Prime Contract.


The Contractor and Subcontractor shall be mutually bound by the terms of this Master Agreement and, to the extent that the provisions of the Prime Contract apply to this Master Agreement and to the Work of the Subcontractor, the Contractor shall assume toward the Subcontractor all obligations and responsibilities that the Owner, under the Prime Contract, assumes toward the Contractor, and the Subcontractor shall assume toward the Contractor all obligations and responsibilities that the Contractor, under the Prime Contract, assumes toward the Owner and the Architect. The Contractor shall have the benefit of all rights, remedies, and redress against the Subcontractor that the Owner, under the Prime Contract, has against the Contractor, and the Subcontractor shall have the benefit of all rights, remedies, and redress against the Contractor that the Contractor, under the Prime Contract, has against the Owner, insofar as applicable to this Master Agreement.

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Hendershot Cowart P.C.

Case Study: Construction Delay Dispute

Black and white photograph of a construction crew working on a building profiled against the setting sun.

Construction schedule delay claims are a leading cause of disputes in the construction industry. Defending against or pursuing such claims often involve complex analysis of the contractual obligations, the causes of the delay, and the types of damages available. In this case, our client was sued by the general contractor for breach of contract that caused a delay in the project’s timeline.

Construction Delay Claim Dispute Background

Our client, a precast concrete manufacturer, was subcontracted by a general contractor, overseeing the reconstruction of a highway overpass, to manufacture and deliver mechanically stabilized earth (MSE) retaining walls. Over the course of the construction, the project fell behind schedule for various reasons including weather issues and a 90-day delay initiating the project. Our client delivered the contracted MSE walls before the materials were needed at the job site, but after the deadline imposed by the project schedule.

The general contractor subsequently sued for breach of contract stating our client “failed to deliver to work in a timely fashion and caused a delay.” The general contractor sought more than $650,000 in damages across five different categories, including labor disruption, extended home office overhead, increased rental equipment costs, plus attorney’s fees and expert fees.

The subcontractor retained Trey Hendershot and Ian McNeill of Hendershot Cowart P.C., to represent them in the suit.

Are you ready to take action to pursue or defend a construction delay claim? Call (713) 909-7323 or contact us online  today to speak with a layer about your options.

Mr. Hendershot and Mr. McNeill teamed up with an expert adept at construction schedule analysis to help formulate a defense strategy. The expert was able to identify relevant documents that would be needed to refute the delay allegations, which were then requested in written discovery. The plaintiff, however, withheld documents—including the project’s daily progress reports.

Mr. McNeill filed and won a motion to compel the plaintiff’s attorneys to produce all of the requested documents and a motion for continuance to request additional time for expert review. Once in receipt of the missing documents, our expert was able to identify numerous flaws in the plaintiff’s methodologies for calculating damages.

Results of Construction Delay Dispute

Mr. Hendershot and Mr. McNeill successfully argued in mediation that there were multiple activities that affected the project’s timeline and that our client’s delay did not impact the actual progress of construction. As a result, the two parties settled the claim, as well as another pending claim, for less than a third of our client’s total exposure. Mr. McNeill also successfully negotiated for extended payment terms of the settlement amount.

Retaining a legal team experienced in construction delay claims early on was crucial for the success of this case. The construction law attorneys at Hendershot Cowart P.C. have a clear understanding of the critical elements of a breach of contract claim and regularly represent both defendants and plaintiffs in construction litigation.

If you wish to discuss a potential construction delay claim or any construction legal matter, call (713) 909-7323 or contact us online to speak with an attorney.

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By Ralph Vartabedian

As Honolulu sprawled into new suburbs west of Pearl Harbor over the last two decades, city planners proposed an ambitious rail transit line that would sweep riders 20 miles into downtown. The $4 billion estimate in 2006 was hardly cheap, amounting to $200 million per mile.

The cost escalation since then has been an engineering marvel all its own. Concerns over Native Hawaiian burial grounds stalled early construction, then problems with welding and cracks in the tracks appeared. Earlier this year, engineers realized that in some sections, the wheels were a half-inch narrower than the rails. Order new wheels? Tear up the tracks?

The launch dates slipped forward and the cost estimates crept upward — at latest count, $11.4 billion, with a target completion date of 2031.

Honolulu’s tribulations are far from a lone cautionary tale. To the contrary, they signal the kind of cost overruns, engineering challenges and political obstacles that have made it all but impossible to complete a major, multibillion-dollar infrastructure project in the United States on budget and on schedule over the past decade.

As the nation sets out on a national spending spree fueled by the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill signed by President Biden this month, the job ahead carries enormous risks that the projects will face the same kind of cost, schedule and technical problems that have hobbled ambitious efforts from New York to Seattle, delaying benefits to the public and driving up the price tag that taxpayers ultimately will bear.

President Biden at a bridge over the Pemigewasset River in Woodstock, N.H., this month. The infrastructure package that he signed into law contains $1.2 trillion to help fix roads and bridges. 

American cities and states were long renowned for some of the greatest bridges, water systems and freeways in the world, but challenges have grown more potent. Agencies have less internal technical talent. Legal challenges have grown stronger under state and federal environmental laws. And spending on infrastructure as a fraction of the economy has shrunk, giving local agencies less experience in modern practices.

The $1.2 trillion package has bold goals, directing the majority of $500 billion to highways, $39 billion to urban transit, $65 billion to broadband projects and $73 billion to electrical grids, among other items. The nation’s busiest passenger rail line, Amtrak’s Boston-to-Washington corridor, would get the biggest slice of a $66 billion rail package. The infrastructure spending plan is unlikely to rescue some existing infrastructure projects that are bogged down with problems.

And even with the new infusion of money, analysts say it will be tough to ramp up infrastructure progress as swiftly as envisioned in the current timetable.

The construction industry is facing sharply growing costs for steel products, up by 142 percent in the last 12 months, and other key materials. Shortages of skilled labor are worsening, exacerbated by Covid-induced retirements.

“A lot of people would like to see the money quickly spent,” said Anirban Basu, chief economist of Associated Builders and Contractors, a construction industry trade group. “They are going to look at the costs they are facing and extend out the projects because of constraints.”

Bent Flyvbjerg, a professor at the University of Oxford who has studied scores of projects around the world, found that 92 percent of them overran their original cost and schedule estimates, often by large margins — in part, he said, because cost estimates are “ systematically and significantly deceptive .”

“A lot of projects are not delivering what they promised to deliver,” he said.

In Baltimore this month, Mr. Biden lamented that U.S. infrastructure was once rated the world’s best and now, “You know what we rank in infrastructure? Thirteenth in the world. ”

In some cases, U.S. construction costs are higher than those in Western Europe and democratic nations in Asia, according to an upcoming University of California, Berkeley, analysis, said Ethan Elkind, a law professor and director of the school’s climate program.

“It is a lot harder to build projects here, and we are not as skilled at doing it,” he said.

When California voters approved a bond in 2008 for a high-speed rail system from Los Angeles to San Francisco , the project was supposed to cost $33 billion and be completed by 2020 . The job is now projected to finish in 2033 for $100 billion, though those estimates are dated and there is an $80 billion funding gap.

The ambitious project, the nation’s most serious effort to build a full-scale bullet train, has encountered serious delays because of land acquisition issues, environmental litigation, permit setbacks, employee turnover and significant design changes. The problems have triggered political infighting even with the Democratic supermajority in California.

Lengthy delays have also affected New York’s East Side Access extension of the Long Island Rail Road, which is supposed to cut up to 40 minutes off commuter time on the last segment, from Queens to Grand Central Terminal, with up to 24 trains per hour at peak times.

Conceived more than a half century ago, with a construction contract awarded in 2006, that project was supposed to be completed by 2011. Early estimates put the cost at $2.2 billion, then $4.3 billion in 2006 and $6.4 billion in 2008. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority now envisions completion in December 2022 at a cost of $11.1 billion. Design changes, underground tunneling problems and coordination with other agencies were some of the factors in the delays and cost increases.

One of the nation’s most important environmental infrastructure projects, and perhaps the most technically difficult one, has been underway in Central Washington State for decades at the former Hanford nuclear weapons site. Since 2013, major construction has been stopped at two partially built plants to treat and vitrify 56 million gallons of radioactive sludge.

When an independent review in 2015 found 362 significant design problems, the Energy Department announced a 17-year delay and estimated the system would become fully operational in 2036.

The problems included the failure to anticipate the potential for an earthquake to damage equipment and the possibility that the chemical processes to separate high-level radioactive materials could cause explosive hydrogen gas to form.

The delays have pushed the Energy Department to adopt an alternative that would start treating low-level waste by the end of 2023, Washington State officials said. The last cost estimate for the plant was $17 billion, up from $12.3 billion in 2013 and about $4 billion 20 years ago.

The rail project in Hawaii was intended to relieve congestion on a par with Los Angeles along the urban band from East Kapolei to the core of Honolulu.

The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation believes it can address the latest track problems by welding certain sections of track and later replacing wheels to match the track size, said a spokesman, Harry Cho.

The setbacks that resulted in delays — archaeological surveys, labor costs, utility relocations and land acquisition — are the kind of challenges that plague nearly all major infrastructure projects; the common mistake is in not planning and budgeting for them, said Joseph Schofer, a Northwestern University civil engineer and originator of the “Infrastructure Show” podcast.

“You can’t say these were an accident,” he said of most cost overruns. “We could do better. We haven’t gotten honest estimates in a lot of cases.”

Mr. Schofer said many projects are justified by estimating that future benefits will exceed costs, but when the costs go up astronomically, no one recalculates the ratio.

In a candid admission of how the political world operates, Willie Brown, the former mayor of San Francisco, once dismissed cost overruns on a transportation hub intended for the bullet train.

“In the world of civic projects, the first budget is really just a down payment,” he wrote in a guest newspaper column in 2013 . “If people knew the real cost from the start, nothing would ever be approved. The idea is to get going. Start digging a hole and make it so big there’s no alternative to coming up with the money to fill it in.”

U.S. Transportation Department officials declined to comment for this article, but Biden administration officials have said the new infrastructure package will redress decades of neglect and will boost the efficiency of the American economy, address climate change and provide immediate jobs in construction.

“We’re going to reduce congestion,” Mr. Biden said. “We’re going to address repair and maintenance backlogs, deploy state-of-the-art technologies and make our ports cleaner and more efficient.”

Mr. Flyvbjerg, the Oxford professor, said infrastructure keeps getting more expensive at a time when many products, such as televisions, refrigerators and computers, get cheaper or better each year.

“Big infrastructure is becoming cost prohibitive,” he said, a problem he blames on institutional sclerosis at government agencies that keep repeating mistakes and choose infrastructure projects that are unlikely to succeed.

The mistakes, he said, include a lack of transparency to the public, flawed contracts that put government agencies at the mercy of contractors and a failure to attract enough private investment to bear some of the project’s risk.

The new infrastructure law, he said, does little to change the outlook.

Ronald N. Tutor, chief executive of Tutor Perini, a California firm that is building some of the nation’s largest projects, said the industry has done a good job of advancing and completing projects that by their nature are complex and unpredictable.

“All the major projects have cost and schedule issues,” he acknowledged. “The truth is these are very high-risk and difficult projects. Conditions change. It is impossible to estimate it accurately. That is naïve.”

The infrastructure law takes some initial steps at reforms, including codifying a Trump executive order to name a lead federal agency for each project, reducing the number of chefs in the kitchen, said Diana Furchtgott-Roth, who formerly oversaw Transportation Department research and technology and now is a George Washington University adjunct professor.

A key factor is the amount of time federal agencies spend to review environmental reports and issue records of decision, she said. In many cases, she said, projects are put on hold for years, while agencies review voluminous documents.

Mr. Biden also named a task force to carry out the infrastructure program with an aim to “invest public dollars efficiently, avoid waste and focus on measurable outcomes for the American people.”

The environmental review process has become so complex, in part to defend against inevitable lawsuits, that neither state agencies nor federal departments can write and review the documents without teams of outside consultants.

Most of the spending under the $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan has been previously authorized, but the law includes $550 billion of new money to be spent in as little as five years.

Federal, state and local agencies were working their way through $270 billion a year in authorized spending in 2019, before the pandemic hit. An attempt to bump that up by an additional $100 billion annually, as envisioned, represents a 37 percent jump that may not be possible to achieve, industry analysts warn.

“It is a very big bump,” said Ken Simonson, chief economist at Associated General Contractors of America, which represents major infrastructure builders. “My guess is that we are not going to see $550 billion spent in the first five years.”


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California Governor Wants to Cut Red Tape for Green Energy Projects

Gavin newsom seeks to limit project delays under state environmental law.

law delayed projects

California Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to expedite government approvals of clean energy, transit and other major infrastructure projects by limiting the amount of time they can be held up by lengthy reviews under the state’s landmark environmental law. 

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California governor seeks to speed up water, clean energy projects delayed by lawsuits, permits

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday pledged to fast-track hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of construction projects throughout the state, including a pair of large water endeavors that have languished for years amid permitting delays and opposition from environmental groups.

For the past decade, California officials have pursued the water projects in the drought-prone state. One would construct a giant tunnel to carry large amounts of water beneath the natural channels of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to drier and more populous Southern California.

The other would be a massive new reservoir near the tiny community of Sites in Northern California that could store more water during deluges — like the series of atmospheric rivers that hit the state earlier this year — for delivery to farmers.

But neither project has been built, despite promises from multiple governors and legislative leaders. Environmental groups have sued to block the tunnel project, arguing it would decimate threatened species of fish, including salmon and the Delta smelt. The Sites Reservoir is still trying to acquire necessary permits to begin construction.

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Newsom is seeking a slew of changes to make it much faster for these projects to gain the required permits and approvals. Other projects that could be eligible include solar, wind and battery power storage; transit and regional rail; road maintenance and bridge projects; semiconductor plants; and wildlife crossings along Interstate 15, Newsom’s office said. His efforts to speed projects would not apply to building more housing.

One key proposal is to limit the amount of time it takes to resolve environmental lawsuits to about nine months. Newsom said his administration is “not looking to roll over anybody,” including what he called the “fierce champions” of environmental stewardship.

“I mean, nine months, you can have a kid, OK? I mean that’s a long time,” Newsom said Friday while visiting the site of a future solar farm in Stanislaus County.

Still, some environmental groups were furious. Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of the advocacy group Restore the Delta, said Newsom “wants to do away with standard environmental protections to build the Delta tunnel.”

“We have never been more disappointed in a California governor than we are with Governor Newsom,” she said. “How is perpetuating environmental injustice, which harms public and environmental health, really any different than red state governors perpetuating social injustice in their states, which Governor Newsom likes to criticize vigorously?”

Newsom says California has hundreds of billions of dollars to spend on infrastructure projects over the next decade, the result of voter-approved bonds, bountiful budget surpluses during the pandemic and an influx of federal cash from President Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill .

But he said the state is often too slow to approve those projects and that the federal money is “going to other states that are moving more aggressively.” Newsom said his proposals could shorten how long it takes to build projects by more than three years.

His office said the legislation would allow various state agencies, including the Department of Transportation, to more quickly approve projects and issue permits. Newsom also signed an executive order on Friday creating what he called an “infrastructure strike team” to identify fast-track projects.

Jerry Brown, executive director of the Sites Project Authority that is overseeing the new reservoir, said he thinks Newsom’s proposals could allow construction to start a year early, saving about $100 million.

“That saves a lot of money and gets a lot of jobs in the pipeline,” he said.

Newsom wants the legislation to be part of the state’s budget, which must be passed before the end of June. That means, if approved, it could take effect sooner and would only require a majority vote of the Democratic-controlled Legislature.

Toni Atkins, a Democrat from San Diego and the leader of the state Senate, said “the climate crisis requires that we move faster to build and strengthen critical infrastructure,” adding that lawmakers will “ensure we can do so responsibly, and in line with California’s commitment to high road jobs and environmental protection.”

Some Republicans cheered Newsom’s proposal, with Republican Senate Leader Brian Jones saying the governor “is finally taking action.” Others were more skeptical, with Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher saying Democrats in the Legislature are the biggest obstacle to Newsom’s proposals.

“Gavin Newsom loves to brag that he can ‘jam’ Democratic lawmakers. Let’s see it,” Gallagher said. “Republicans are ready to work with him towards real reforms.”

ERC vows sanctions vs NGCP on over 70 delayed projects

At a glance.

Despite delay in the completion of at least 72 projects, NGCP has already been passing on cost recoveries for these facilities in the electric bills of consumers.

The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) will mete out "the full force of the law" against transmission firm National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) for the more than 70 delayed projects that caused deterioration in the delivery of services and inflating bills of ratepayers.

The delay in 66 typical transmission projects, plus six more projects of national significance had been disclosed by the regulatory body during a public hearing that was convened this week by the Senate Committee on Energy.

ERC Chairperson Monalisa C. Dimalanta firmly stated “We can assure the Senate and electricity consumers that this Commission is conducting a diligent review of the complaints, delays and possible violations of NGCP.”

The ERC chief further stipulated “we are prepared to enforce the full force of the law as appropriate based on the findings.”

Senate Committee on Energy Vice Chairman Sherwin T. Gatchalian spearheaded intensified calls on the ERC  “to penalize NGCP appropriately for delayed transmission projects that adversely impact the country’s electricity supply.”

As unearthed during the Senate inquiry, despite the delay of massive NGCP projects, the costs of such infrastructure buildup are already being passed-on in the monthly electric bills, hence, that has been aggravating the financial burden of consumers who are already being saddled with inflationary pressures of rising costs of basic commodities.

Gatchalian thus prodded the ERC “to enforce fines and penalties so we can impose discipline on NGCP. We are not seeing discipline because a lot of projects are delayed.”

The lawmaker stressed “the bottom line is that the projects are delayed and what are the penalties involved because we can’t just let this go. The reason why there is impunity is that there are no penalties imposed. The delayed projects are affecting the entire electric power industry and pose risks for the future of the country.”

On this year’s summer months alone, three critical projects are under close monitoring and scrutiny by the Department of Energy (DOE) – because the substantially stretched timeframe of completion of these facilities could aggravate the tight supply condition already distressing Luzon and Visayas grids.

These highly important transmission projects with snagged commercial operations include the 500-kilovolt (kV) Balsik (Hermosa)-San Jose transmission line with original completion date on June 28, 2019; the 230kV Cebu-Negros-Panay backbone-stage 3 project which has targeted completion on March 31 last year;  and the Mindanao-Visayas Interconnection Project (MVIP) that was slated to come on commercial stream since January 8, 2021.

Should these three projects been completed on time, stranded generation capacities could have been seamlessly wheeled into the grid and could have guaranteed additional power supply for the country – including 600-megawatt capacity from the Limay coal-fired power plant in Bataan; the additional generation of solar plants in Negros; as well as the export of capacity from the supply surplus in Mindanao which may then be shared to the Luzon and Visayas grids.

The adjustment process on the tariffs to be passed on by NGCP in the electric bills has been anticipated for completion early part of this year, but the voluminous interventions filed by array of relevant stakeholders have been impeding the early resolution of the rate reset case.

Dimalanta noted “NGCP filed its application only in November 2022; and we received 10 intervenors who all needed to be given their day in court. There were also motions filed by NGCP that needed to be resolved to move forward.”

On the delayed transmission projects, NGCP Assistant Vice President and Head of Corporate Communications Cynthia Alabanza expressed the company’s “apologies for the delayed projects,” with her adding that they have been “doing something about it” – and energization of one of the projects is targeted this week.

“This does not mean that we never encountered problems, it’s just normal that there’s disturbance on a day-to-day … and based on the assessment of our performance on that ability to recover, the performance so far is good, although it’s not perfect,” she claimed.

A judge halts South Carolina's new abortion law pending state Supreme Court review

The Associated Press

law delayed projects

South Carolina Assistant Attorney General Thomas Hydrick argues during a hearing in Columbia on Friday that a judge should not halt enforcement of the state's new abortion law. Jeffrey Collins/AP hide caption

South Carolina Assistant Attorney General Thomas Hydrick argues during a hearing in Columbia on Friday that a judge should not halt enforcement of the state's new abortion law.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — A judge put South Carolina's new law banning most abortions around six weeks of pregnancy on hold Friday until the state Supreme Court can review the measure, giving providers a temporary reprieve in a region that has enacted strict limits on the procedure.

Judge Clifton Newman's ruling that put the state's abortion law back at roughly 20 weeks came about 24 hours after Gov. Henry McMaster signed the bill into law without any notice, which had left dozens of people seeking abortions in limbo and created the potential for a legal abortion becoming illegal as a doctor performed it.

"It's extraordinarily difficult not only for the women themselves, but for their doctors — not just the doctors at Planned Parenthood — but hospitals all across the state who need to understand what to do in an emergency," said Vicki Ringer, a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood in South Carolina.

South Carolina is poised to renew its 6-week abortion ban

Reproductive rights in America

South carolina is poised to renew its 6-week abortion ban.

The developments in South Carolina are a microcosm of what has played out across the country since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade a year ago, allowing states to decide their abortion laws and leaving patients scrambling to find care wherever they can in situations where weeks or even days can make a huge difference.

The South Carolina measure joins stiff limitations pending in North Carolina and Florida, states that had been holdouts in the South providing wider access to the procedure, threatening to further delay abortions as appointments pile up in the region.

The state has seen the number of abortions climb sharply as other Southern states passed near-total bans. Before the overturn of Roe, less than 1 in 10 abortions in South Carolina were performed on people who lived out of state. Now, that figure is near 50% and the number of abortions each month has at least tripled, according to state health data.

The law passed Tuesday by the General Assembly is similar to a ban on abortion once cardiac activity can be detected that lawmakers passed in 2021. The state Supreme Court decided in a 3-2 ruling that the 2021 law violated the state constitution's right to privacy.

Nebraska passes 12-week abortion ban and restrictions on gender-affirming care

Nebraska passes 12-week abortion ban and restrictions on gender-affirming care

Legislative leaders said the new law makes technical tweaks that should sway at least one justice to change his mind.

But Newman said it wasn't his role to figure out if that would be successful.

"The status quo should be maintained until the Supreme Court reviews its decision," Newman said. "It's going to end up there."

Planned Parenthood immediately sued after the law went into effect Thursday, saying South Carolina's abortion clinics were flooded with canceled appointments from patients further along in their pregnancies and doctors were forced to carefully review the new regulations on the fly.

The abortion rights group said the new law was so similar to the old one that clinics and women seeking treatment would be harmed if it were allowed to stay in effect until a full court review.

Nearly all of the 75 women with appointments for abortions over the next several days appeared to be past six weeks, Planned Parenthood attorney Kathleen McDaniel said.

"There is irreputable harm. It is happening. It has already happened," McDaniel said.

The abortion pill mifepristone has another day in federal court

Shots - Health News

The abortion pill mifepristone has another day in federal court.

The majority opinion in the South Carolina Supreme Court ruling striking down the 2021 law said that although lawmakers have the authority to protect life, the privacy clause in the state constitution ultimately gives women time to determine whether they want to get an abortion and most women don't know they are pregnant six weeks after conception.

Justice Kaye Hearn wrote the opinion. She has since had to retire because she turned 72 and was replaced by a man, making the South Carolina's the only high court in the country without a woman on the bench.

"I would say that nothing in the law has changed," McDaniel said. "The only thing that has changed is there is no longer a woman on the Supreme Court."

The changes in the new law are directed at another justice in the majority, John Few, who wrote his own opinion saying the 2021 law was poorly written because legislators didn't show it did any work to determine if six weeks was enough time for a woman to know she was pregnant.

Few suggested he would have found an even stricter full ban on abortion constitutional, saying that if a fetus had all the rights of a person, then a ban would be like child abuse or rape laws that don't violate privacy rights.

Lawyers for the state leaned on the hope Few will change his vote

"We would strongly encourage the court to review that decision very carefully, to understand it focuses on one law, the 2021 act," state assistant attorney general Thomas Hydrick said. But, he said, the new law is a good faith attempt to correct flaws lawmakers saw in how the justices interpreted the 2021 law.

Newman said that's outside his role as a lower court judge. "Am I being asked to overrule the Supreme Court?" he asked.

Lawmakers continued to say they are confident they wrote a bill that will stand up to the high court's scrutiny this time.

"While I respect Judge Newman's decision, I remain convinced that the heartbeat bill is constitutional and that the Supreme Court will agree," Republican state Senate President Thomas Alexander said in a statement.

law delayed projects

law delayed projects

Moscow Metro Station Proposal

Variant Studio

Moscow, Russia

A proposal by London-based design and architectural studio VariantStudio to create a noise-absorbing metro station. The station would be covered in porous ceramic panels that would absorb the train noise and the echo from the tunnels, therefore providing a more relaxed atmosphere in the station and creating a much more positive journey. The quietest metro station in the world? Possibly!

Design Team

law delayed projects

In the subway tunnels and its premises, the underground trains and a constant passenger flow create a lot of noise and a strong echo. The conceptual idea of the architectural design for Novoperedelkino station in Moscow is to cover the walls and ceilings with acoustic and sound absorbing elements, therefore reducing the possibility of the sound waves to bounce off the walls and ceilings and create echo.

The three dimensional pyramid and prism panels would be created from lightweight and porous ceramic, that would be sound absorbing and fire safe. The finishing of the station would not only absorb noise, but it would be also used as an element for passenger navigation. The walls, floor and ceiling would form a pattern that would point the way to the platform, nearest exits and indicate from which side the train is approaching, therefore helping the passengers to navigate easier in the subway station. Walls and ceilings are created in a neutral ochre tone, but functionally significant elements that require attention are highlighted in more bright blue indigo.

Though the station requires only low and simple maintenance, we've also developed an innovative solution for cleaning the platform wall. The platform walls would be cleaned with a method used in car washing—during the nighttime, incorporated brushes move along the wall and remove tough train grease.

The visual language of the entrance pavilions reflects the main purpose of the station: simple movement. The area between the pavilions is provided with multi-level green zones, pedestrian walkways, shrubs, flowerbeds and recreation zones. Just like the station itself, the green zone is designed to absorb noise from the nearby highway. The bushes are planted and trimmed, therefore absorbing a noise of 40 decibels from the passing vehicles.

Architectural design will provide the passengers comfort and safety.

The quietest metro station in the world? Possibly!

Learn More About This Project x

law delayed projects

I realize you left the brushes uncovered for visualization purposes, but as I'm sure you know, they would have to be covered so as not to fling grime on passersby! Also, I couldn't help but notice the benches facing the tracks and thought I would paste this:   http://www.core77.com/posts/35103/Designing-a-Solution-to-Stop-Drunks-from-Falling-Off-of-Subway-Platforms  -  For consideration 

law delayed projects

There are many Montreal stations that had a bright style to them when new.  Now, half the lights are continually burned out and spider webs seem to never be removed.  Let alone the inevitable filth of 100,000 people bumping in and out everyday.

law delayed projects

Looks annoying to clean.

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Wetlands bridge adds delay and $72 million to light-rail project

Mike Lindblom

Sound Transit passengers will have to wait until 2026 to ride light rail between SeaTac and Federal Way, because contractors must build a 500-foot-long bridge over unstable wetland soil.

Transit staff reported Thursday that this new elevated trackway design, in a Kent segment of the project, will require $72 million extra. A long span is needed because the ground is too seismically unstable to support several ordinary columns.

The agency revealed an updated 2026 grand opening estimate this month after a long period of uncertainty, and it’s nearly two years later than the goal announced to voters during the ST3 tax measure campaign of 2016.

Federal Way Link Extension will provide 8 miles of grade-separated rails, built between Highway 99 and Interstate 5 south of Angle Lake Station. New Kent/Des Moines, Star Lake and Federal Way Downtown stations are under construction, along with 3,200 park-and-ride spaces.

Trains would carry a projected 29,000 to 34,000 daily riders this decade, to increase in the 2030s when a future segment reaches Tacoma. The $2.5 billion budget includes $790 million in Federal Transit Administration grants and $629 million in low-interest federal loans .

Sound Transit board members voted Thursday to approve a $110 million increase, with $72 million for the bridge and the remainder to pay assorted lesser costs, and to raise the potential contract payments with Kiewit Corp to $1.64 billion.

Also due to the delay, they  boosted a consulting contract $33 million , to a total $139 million for quality assurance, technical support and construction  management . 

Both expenses can be covered by the project’s own contingency funds, without siphoning cash from other transit improvements, said staff reports.

“It really does set the project up for success with a clear and achievable schedule and funding,” said Sepehr Sobhani, deputy executive project director.

Sobhani said he’s confident the Federal Way line will be done without exceeding the $2.5 billion budget, which contained a large contingency fund. It’s 70% built and the worst cost risks were resolved Thursday. “We’re up and out of the ground. The biggest issues are under the ground, and we got bit by one,” he said.

Finding a quagmire

The troubled area is south of South 259th Place and alongside I-5 in Kent, where tracks will go between the freeway and McSorley Wetland .

Kiewit filed notice in late 2020 that the soil was weaker than represented in preconstruction geotechnical records. Sound Transit investigated and agreed that during a severe earthquake, “Soil in the area would have the potential to liquefy causing the adjacent slope to fail and slide” into the train guideway.

Builders designed an alternate version, with flexible bridge bearings to absorb seismic forces. But then last July, a soil section there collapsed , briefly closing a lane of I-5 and causing the team to rethink its bridge strategy, a staff report explains. Kiewit finally designed a 500-foot-long bridge where the foundations straddle the poorest soil.

This span, the longest in Sound Transit’s network, will be made from concrete poured directly into cantilevered segments, which will look like the Duwamish River crossing in Tukwila and the future South Bellevue crossing above I-90.

Commonly in megaprojects, especially tunnels, the government sponsors fund the soil studies and take on financial risks of problems below the surface — otherwise bidders would shun the project or seek exorbitant payments.

After lengthy negotiations, Sound Transit and Kiewit agreed on a $110 million increase this spring. To not sign the deal, Sobhani said, would cause a toxic relationship with transit and contractor officials fighting over every issue, causing distractions.

Sound Transit’s soil sampling effort in the 2010s was hindered by woodlands, before the job started and builders cleared out the tree cover, the staff explained.

Board members have briefly talked about a first-phase grand opening at Kent/Des Moines Station, where the tracks arriving from Angle Lake Station will be entirely north of the wetlands.

Concrete and steel station structures are already finished, while ceilings and glasswork are underway, so the Kent/Des Moines Station is on target to be completed by fall 2024, reported Linneth Riley-Hall, the Federal Way line’s executive director.

So far, there’s no decision or formal analysis to bring the trains there early.

Most Read Local Stories

The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.

TikTok sues Montana to block ban, citing First Amendment

The popular video app argues that the state’s ‘extraordinary and unprecedented measures [are] based on nothing more than unfounded speculation’.

law delayed projects

The popular video app TikTok sued Montana on Monday, saying the state’s new law banning the app statewide would violate Americans’ First Amendment right to free expression.

The federal lawsuit will set the stage for a broader debate over the short-video app and its Chinese parent company, ByteDance, which some critics in the United States have said is vulnerable to Chinese government propaganda and espionage.

The lawsuit seeks to overturn the law, which Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) signed last week and is set to go into effect Jan. 1. The legal challenge will probably delay the measure.

Gianforte said the law would “protect Montanans’ private data and sensitive personal information from being harvested by the Chinese Communist Party.” Neither Montana officials nor the U.S. government has supplied evidence supporting that claim.

TikTok, which says it has 150 million monthly active users in the United States, said in its lawsuit that the state’s “extraordinary and unprecedented measures [are] based on nothing more than unfounded speculation.”

Montana can ban TikTok, but it probably can’t enforce it

In a statement, TikTok spokeswoman Brooke Oberwetter said that the company is “challenging Montana’s unconstitutional TikTok ban to protect our business and the hundreds of thousands of TikTok users in Montana” and that it believes its case “will prevail based on an exceedingly strong set of precedents and facts.”

The lawsuit cited TikTok data from March to estimate that roughly 110,000 monthly active users accessed TikTok around Missoula, the home of the public University of Montana and the second-largest metropolitan area in the state.

Montana officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In its complaint, TikTok says Montana’s ban violates not only the company’s First Amendment rights on “whether, and how, to host, disseminate, and promote third-party speech created by others,” but also the free-speech rights of its users by “unconstitutionally shutting down the forum for speech for all speakers on the app.”

Five TikTok creators in Montana also cited First Amendment protections when they sued Montana last week over the ban.

“Montana has no authority to enact laws advancing what it believes should be the United States’ foreign policy or its national security interests, nor may Montana ban an entire forum for communication based on its perceptions that some speech shared through that forum, though protected by the First Amendment, is dangerous,” the lawsuit states.

Federal judges supported a similar argument when they blocked President Donald Trump’s executive order banning TikTok and the Chinese app WeChat in 2020, saying the U.S. government had provided “scant little evidence” to justify a ban that would “burden substantially more speech than is necessary.”

This dissident uses Chinese-owned TikTok to criticize China’s government

TikTok’s lawsuit also argues that Montana’s ban would preempt federal law by intruding upon matters of national concern, including domestic security and foreign affairs.

TikTok is negotiating with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, a cross-government group that reviews foreign business deals, on data-security measures that the company hopes will allow it to remain operational in the United States.

Some in the Biden administration have pushed ByteDance to sell TikTok, arguing divestiture is the only measure that would resolve their concerns over foreign influence.

TikTok’s lawsuit argues that Montana’s ban would violate the Constitution’s Commerce Clause, which restricts state laws that could impair the flow of business across state lines.

It also accuses Montana of an “unconstitutional bill of attainder” by passing a law that would single out TikTok for punishment “based on speculative concerns,” rather than approving a more general law that would cover all social media companies or regulate the practices of the industry at large.

Civil rights and free-expression groups have argued that TikTok presents a compelling case. Seth Stern, a director at the Freedom of the Press Foundation, wrote in March that “censoring communications from foreign countries — let alone entire platforms — is plainly unconstitutional” and called on the courts to strike any such measure down.

The law would ban TikTok from operating in the state and impose $10,000-a-day fines on any “entity,” such as the Apple and Google app stores, that allows people in Montana to download the app.

Tech experts told The Washington Post last week that the proposal is “technically incompetent” due to several factors, including that the app stores don’t keep track of everyone who crosses the Montana state line.

And Carl Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond’s law school, said TikTok’s lawsuit makes several compelling arguments and that he expects the federal judges ruling on it may take the company’s side.

“It’s a pretty clear violation of the First Amendment, which requires strict scrutiny and narrowly tailored laws, which this ban is clearly not,” Tobias said in an interview. “The argument about this impairing the free flow of commerce between the states is a strong argument. As is the one about national security, which is clearly within the purview of the president and the Congress, not individual states. It’s a very strong case.”

Appeals Court Partially Blocks ATF’s Pistol Brace Rule

The injunction is unlikely to prevent the agency from enforcing the regulation nationally.

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Go beyond the headlines.

Your weekly briefing on gun violence..

A federal appeals court has temporarily blocked the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives from fully enforcing a new rule regulating guns equipped with pistol braces, a popular gun accessory that has been used in some recent mass shootings. The scope of the court’s injunction is likely to be limited, however, and is unlikely to prevent the ATF from enforcing the rule nationally.

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, granted the injunction on May 23 in response to a court challenge attempting to block enforcement of the ATF’s rule. Pistol braces are popular accessories intended to increase the accuracy and stability of AR-15-style pistols. The rule requires owners of the devices to either remove and destroy the accessories, or register the braced firearms with the ATF by May 31.

In granting its injunction, the appeals court appeared to only block enforcement against the plaintiffs in this specific case, Mock v. Garland . The plaintiffs include William Mock and Christopher Lewis, two Texans who own braced firearms; Maxim Defense, a company that sells firearms equipped with pistol braces; and the Firearms Policy Coalition, a pro-gun rights legal advocacy group.

That means that the ATF is likely temporarily barred from enforcing the rule only against Mock, Lewis, and Maxim Defense, while the court hears the case. Other owners and sellers of pistol-braced firearms still face the impending deadline, but the court did not specify whether the injunction also applies to members of the Firearms Policy Coalition and Maxim Defense customers. 

Following the decision, the Firearms Policy Coalition asked the court to clarify the injunction’s scope.

“We are very excited and encouraged by the Fifth Circuit’s decision this morning,” Cody J. Wisniewski, senior attorney for constitutional litigation at FPC Action Foundation, said in a statement . “We intend to ask the Court for additional information about who is covered under the injunction, but cannot stress enough just how important this decision is.”

The Department of Justice and ATF declined to respond to questions from The Trace seeking clarification over whether the order would affect its plans to enforce the rule. “ATF is unable to comment on this litigation related to short-barreled rifles,” the agency’s deputy chief of public affairs, Erik Longnecker, wrote in an email to The Trace.

Gun owners use pistol braces to increase the accuracy of assault-style pistols — weapons that combine the maneuverability of a handgun with the increased firepower and capabilities of rifles — while maintaining concealability. While pistol braces were originally marketed as a way to stabilize a firearm against the shooter’s arm, they can also be placed against the shoulder like a typical rifle stock. Estimates from the ATF and the Congressional Research Service show that millions of pistol braces may be in circulation.

The Biden administration first proposed regulating pistol braces in 2021, following a mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado, in which a shooter used a firearm equipped with one of the devices to kill 10 people at a grocery store. The shooter who killed six people at a Nashville Christian school in March also used a firearm equipped with a pistol brace. 

The rule has been met with fierce resistance from pro-gun rights groups and Republicans since it was introduced. 

The rule change reclassified guns previously considered pistols as short-barreled rifles if they are equipped with a pistol brace and have a barrel shorter than 16 inches. Doing so brings those firearms under the purview of the National Firearms Act, a law that has imposed tight restrictions on weapons like machine guns since the 1930s. 

Regardless, the injunction is unlikely to stay in place for long: the Fifth Circuit has scheduled oral arguments on June 29 in New Orleans. Mock v. Garland is one of several pending lawsuits over the rule. Pro-gun rights groups have filed at least two other challenges, one in a separate case in Texas and another in North Dakota, that could ultimately hamper the rule.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated that current owners of braced firearms must pay a $200 tax when registering their weapons under the National Firearms Act to come into compliance with the ATF’s rule. The tax is waived for current owners until May 31.

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Your tax-deductible donation to The Trace will directly support nonprofit journalism on gun violence and its effects on our communities.

Introducing ‘The Trajectory’: A Newsletter About Where We Go From Here

We’ll dive into the people, policies, and programs grappling with America’s gun violence problem.

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Gov. Lee is providing $140M for an SRO in every school. Here's a hurdle to making it happen.

Amid nationwide police shortages, it's not clear how long it will take to implement a $230 million school safety bill signed by Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee last week that includes funding to place a school resource officer in every public school statewide.

The new law allocates $140 million to place full-time, armed SROs in each of Tennessee's 1,863 public schools, and $30 million to place more than 100 new homeland security agents in each county to help coordinate school security responses. Funding will become available with the new state budget on July 1. The state Department of Safety and Homeland Security expects to begin distributing funding in the following weeks.

Although the bill was filed before a shooter killed three 9-year-old students and three staff members at The Covenant School in Nashville on March 27, Lee pushed for additional funding, new security protocols and mental health resources after the tragedy.

"Nothing is more important than making sure that Tennessee students return home from school safely each day," Lee spokesperson Jade Byers told The Tennessean in an email.

As agencies statewide now work to implement the new measures, Nashville leaders are still struggling to staff school security personnel positions approved last year after a deadly school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, rocked the nation.

Metro Nashville Public Schools has 158 campuses and already works with the Metro Nashville Police Department to staff middle and high school campuses with SROs. A total of 38 SROs are currently in rotation — mostly on high school campuses.

So what would it take to get one on every MNPS campus? Here's a look at how the numbers break down, what kind of training it entails and what other safety measures MNPS has in place.

'Am I safe at school?' How parents, students are reconciling grief with action after Covenant shooting

A look at SROs in Nashville schools

In the wake of the Uvalde school shooting  last year, Nashville Police Chief John Drake promised higher police visibility at local elementary schools.

Metro elementary schools do not have dedicated officers. MNPD allows officers to volunteer or log overtime to be at elementary schools for arrival or dismissal times. Following calls by some parents for SROs in elementary schools after Uvalde, Director of Schools Adrienne Battle said the district had no plans to place SROs in its more than 70 elementary schools.

“Precinct on-duty officers are providing extra attention to elementary schools,” MNPD spokesperson Don Aaron told The Tennessean in April, after the Covenant shooting.

All 13 MNPS high schools currently have at least two school resource officers, with a daily rotation of officers at its 29 middle schools, according to district spokesperson Sean Braisted. Nine SRO supervisors are also on hand.

But there are currently 23 vacancies for middle and high school SRO positions, Metro Police spokesperson Brooke Reese said.

Additionally, most of the 70 part-time positions in the MNPS school safety ambassadors program are currently unfilled. Announced last August as part of the district's response to the Uvalde shooting, the program places unarmed retired police officers with a police frequency radio inside schools to monitor school safety, and act as a go-between for the school and police.

While the district has received state and federal funding for the program, as of this month, there were nine ambassadors hired and six in the process of being hired, Braisted said. More recruitment and training efforts are underway.

Other safety, emergency measures across Nashville schools

MNPS has added several safety measures in recent months, including employing $4 million in city funds for the following:

Additionally, MNPS plans to install add-ons this summer to existing security cameras, which use artificial intelligence to detect possible brandished weapons.

"MNPS and MNPD have a strong collaborative partnership and meet regularly to review and discuss security plans to ensure we are complying with state law and taking the necessary steps to keep students and staff safe," Braisted said. "We have over the years invested in security upgrades to follow best practices and continue to look at ways we can enhance that safety."

What does it take to train an SRO?

All SROs are also commissioned law enforcement officers. Tennessee law requires all SROs to go through a basic 40-hour training on school policing and working on school campuses. That's in addition to regular police training, which SROs have one year to complete after being hired. SRO training includes classes on topics like conflict resolution, relationship building and supporting students with disabilities.

The state also mandates 16 hours of SRO-specific training each year, which is typically conducted for Nashville officers over Christmas break, according to Reese.

"During this training time we often partner with MNPS to focus on specific items to MNPS students, but we also focus on items that can help the SROs effectively respond to different situations at all schools," Reese said.

Officer shortage may hamper SRO efforts

MNPD is facing an officer shortage, which may compound the issue of expanding SRO staffing across all campuses.

As of May 12, the department was 179 officers shy of the 1,608 it is authorized to employ, Reese said. A class of 45 graduated from the police academy on May 15, with 30 more set to graduate in July and 45 on track to graduate later this year.

When asked about extra funding, recruiting or staff needed to put an SRO on every campus, including elementary schools, Reese said the department would continue to "assess and evaluate" where it should place its resources.

State funding to complement SRO expansion

State agencies will begin recruiting and training personnel to implement the new law when the funding becomes available on July 1, but it's not clear when all new positions will be staffed. Local law enforcement is responsible for recruiting, hiring, training and placing SROs.

The $140 million approved for SRO placements will fund an average annual salary of $75,000 per officer for each of the 1,863 public schools in the state. To access SRO grant funding approved in the new budget, local law enforcement agencies must have a memorandum of understanding with the local school district to provide a full-time SRO to each public school in the district.

The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security already has 18 agents placed across the state. The newly approved $30 million will fund total of 122 positions, including existing agents, allowing the agency to place at least one agent in each of the state's 95 counties, and hire several new administrative staff.

Wes Moster, a spokesperson for the Department of Safety, said the agency intends to hire, train and deploy the new agents "as efficiently as possible" once funding becomes available on July 1. The department declined to provide a deadline for when all agents are expected to be deployed in counties.

"These agents will expand on the work of current agents to coordinate with schools, school districts, and local law enforcement; consult on school security; provide best practice recommendations for improving school security; and assist with assessing at-risk behavior — for example, through the Safe TN app," Moster told The Tennessean.

The Tennessee Department of Education will also play a role in implementing the new law, spokesman Brian Blackley told The Tennessean. The department is responsible for collecting school safety drill plans submitted annually by districts. Plans are evaluated by TDOE and the Department of Safety each year. The new law requires schools to expand those plans.

Reach Rachel Wegner at ra[email protected] and Vivian Jones at [email protected].


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