Wichita Falls City Councilors terminated a contract Tuesday after a company failed to complete a nearly $1.3 million project. It was part of the Phase 1: Hike and Bike Trail on Seymour Highway.
City Councilors awarded the bid for that project back in November 2014. Then in January 2015, the city entered into a contract with Mega Prime Contractors, Inc.
In the original contract, the company had one year to complete the project. The original expiration date started as January 19, 2016, then was later pushed back to February 29, after a number of weather delays.
However, as of March, the project is still only about 53-percent complete. Prompting Wichita Falls City Councilors to declare a breach in contract, and terminate the agreement with Mega Contractors.
“We believe it would not be possible for them to finish this contract based upon the manpower they have out there for nearly two years if they were to work at the current pace they're working, and that’s not acceptable,” said Kinley Hegglund, City Attorney for Wichita Falls.
There were multiple reasons Hegglund said the city needed to move forward on the breach of contract.
Hegglund said the city had substantial evidence that the work being made was insufficient to be completed within the time specified, it also failed to provide sufficient evidence and proper equipment to get the contract properly executed. He said the city also had evidence the contractor has been insolvent or bankrupt or otherwise unable to carry on his work.
“There have been nearly a dozen, if not more, contractors who have not been paid locally,” said Hegglund. “We believe that that’s evident they are insolvent.”
However, with every contract the city enters, they also have the contractor get a performance bond in case the contractor’s performance fails.
“Now that the contractors failed to perform through breach of contract we'll be asking the surety company to take over the project.”
The surety will find another contractor to come in and finish the project, according to Hegglund.
“The hope is, it won’t cost the city any additional money, and in fact, if there is additional money to be paid normally the surety company pays any difference in the amounts,” said Hegglund.
The process is something the city is moving forward with now that councilors approved the termination of the contract. Officials will meet with the surety company on Thursday. They expect to get the ball rolling in the next 30 to 40 days.
That news is bringing hope to one long time Wichita Falls resident who walks those trails every day.
“One of the things about Wichita Falls it does not have enough trails or bike trails for walking or biking,” said Norm Gonzalez, Wichita Falls resident.
Gonzalez walks five miles every day at Lucy Park, the end destination to Phase 1 of the hike and bike trail project. He said the trail connection is something he’s waited for, and now, he’ll have to wait even longer.
“I talk to Michael Smith frequently and praise him and the council for doing what they've done so far, but more needs to be done,” said Gonzalez. “Someone needs to get their act together, whether that’s the company or whoever in terms of completing the trail.”
Representatives from Mega Prime Contractors were not at the meeting Tuesday morning. Newschannel 6 did reach out to them this afternoon regarding the contract termination, we have not heard back