Contractor Walks Off CLT Road Projects

CHARLOTTE, NC — Construction on Independence Boulevard is at a complete standstill as the NC Department of Transportation and the contractor are in a stalemate over contracts and money.

“This is just killing small business,” said Chad Reed, Assistant Manager of Direct Tools.

His and surrounding businesses on Independence Boulevard anticipated open roads by spring of 2017.

“It’s going to hold up the construction,” said local barber Kenny Harry.

The contractor, DeVere Construction, based in Michigan, walked off every job it was working in North Carolina. Two of those are in Charlotte.

DeVere abandoned the $50 million Independence Boulevard job January 29, as well as the US 29 bridge work in the University Area.

WCCB Charlotte went to DeVere’s Charlotte location off Independence Blvd. The buildings were empty, and the lot was locked.

NCDOT’s notices of default tell DeVere it must return to work by Monday, Feb. 8. If not, DeVere’s bonding company, Liberty Mutual, will have to find a replacement contractor for the same price.

“It’s stopping people from coming in, you know?” said Harry.

Harry says one of his customers worked for DeVere.

“They told them they had to leave,” said Harry.

NCDOT confirms a DeVere statement that says the company stopped work because the state is withholding claims and contract balances. How much money isn’t clear.

WCCB Charlotte called DeVere’s Michigan office. No one returned our messages.

NCDOT sent us this statement:

“Our focus is on completion of all projects in a timely, satisfactory manner and reducing the impact to the traveling public. We hold a contractor like DeVere Construction responsible for helping us achieve that goal by doing the required work under the schedule specified in its contract with the department. And there can be financial consequences if the company fails to meet its contracted obligations. In 2014, DeVere Construction was barred from bidding on any future NCDOT projects in an effort to allow the company to focus on and complete its current projects.”

Store managers are concerned they could be caught in the crossfire.

“It’s really affecting traffic into the location,” said Reed.

NCDOT says it doesn’t expect construction to be back up and running until the end of March. The bonding company still has to come up with a replacement plan.