EARLIER: Bypass contractor loaded with jobs

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Kay and Kay has 11 other open state contracts

By Lisa King

State officials’ dissatisfaction with the contractors working on the Shelbyville Bypass hasn’t stopped that company from winning and beginning nearly $142 million in state contracts since 2005. Kay and Kay Contracting, which began construction on the bypass in May 2006, has 11 other open contracts with the Transportation Cabinet and since May 1 has started seven more projects to build highways and related structures. Kay and Kay has completed just 56 percent of the 4.5-mile road that would connect Kentucky 55 on the north and west sides of Shelbyville, stretching from U.S. 60 to Eminence Pike. Best estimates are that the project will not be completed until late in 2010. Transportation Cabinet Secretary Joe Prather expressed last week in a letter to state Rep. Brad Montell (R-Shelbyville) his displeasure with the structure of the $26.5 million contract with Kay and Kay and the company’s performance toward fulfilling it. But an analysis by The Sentinel-News of data supplied by the Cabinet shows that Kay and Kay is more than two years behind the original completion date of one other contract and currently is paying $800 a day in fines for that delay. That project, a $227,174 deal to reconstruct entry and exit ramps on the I-75 overpass in Whitley County, had an original completion date of Aug. 2007, state records show. But John Dobson, public information officer for District 11, in which Whitley County is located, said that particular project had several change orders relating to safety, ramp and aesthetic improvements, which altered its original completion date to June 30, 2009, a deadline Kay and Kay has failed to meet. “The contractor has been penalized $800 per day since 6-30-09 and will continue to be so impacted until project completion,” said Dobson, who added that he expects the completion soon. State records provided to The Sentinel-News date back only to 2005, because data was not collected into one form before that, but that information shows that the state has been comfortable with awarding its work to Kay and Kay. And the analysis shows that Kay and Kay has many overlapping contracts of various types that could have an impact on its ability to complete the Shelbyville Bypass:

  • Since starting work in Shelbyville, Kay and Kay has started and completed at least 80 percent of three other contracts, including projects totaling more than $27.5 million in Laurel and Marion counties.
  • Since June, Kay and Kay has been awarded five new contracts worth $8.8 million, all for asphalt resurfacing, including a contract awarded July 7 for a $7.7 million job in Whitley County that must be completed in less than a year (by June 30, 2010).
  • Four of the new contracts must be completed in 2009, including one project in Whitley County that must be finished by Nov. 15, a time when Kay and Kay is not allowed to work on the Shelbyville Bypass because of a required winter break that runs Nov. 1 to March 31.
  • Five of the contracts are, like Shelbyville’s bypass, “working days contracts,” which give the contractor control of when it works as long as the job is done in a specific number of working days.
  • The Shelbyville Bypass is the largest and most open-ended, with 485 working days allowed, more than twice as many working days as an ongoing project to extend the Lebanon bypass in Marion County (225), which is about 95 percent complete. Nine of the contracts have specific completion dates.
  • Seven projects in eastern Kentucky show no progress, but all of those but one are less than $1 million and were granted recently by the state.

History with the state Kay and Kay, privately owned by Bill Robinson, operates out of London, Ky., and has since 1977 been completing asphalt-related contracts. State documents show that it earns $31 million annually and employs approximately 75. The company has no active Web site, and it has declined repeatedly both telephone and e-mail requests for interviews with The Sentinel-News. Kay and Kay has since 1978 been named on the Cabinet’s Pre-Qualified Contractor’s list, which, said Anne Stansel, executive staff advisor with the Cabinet, state officials meet monthly to update. “Once that meeting’s over with, and everybody’s been approved, then they put out a new list,” she said, adding that every contractor on the list has met the criteria to work on state contracts. “You have to show that you’ve got the equipment and the experience and that sort of thing to do the particular item of work you want to have done,” she said. Stansel said holding a certificate of eligibility is essential to getting a state contract. “If the contractor is not pre-qualified for the job, then the state will not accept the bid,” she said.  Andrea Clifford, public information officer for the transportation department’s District 5, which includes Shelby County, said there is no limit to the number of contracts a company can have open at one time. “There is not a limit on the number of projects, but there is a limit on the dollar amount of active work under contract. Kay and Kay satisfied all these requirements,” she said. Pike delays  Though Kay and Kay’s record in state contracts since 2005 is incomplete, the company can’t be blamed for all delays. For example, since 2002 Kay and Kay has been working in Pike County to build a section of a $25 million, new U.S. 460. That road was to take 329 working days, and the state lists that job as 92 percent complete, through no fault of Kay and Kay. Sarah George, public information officer for the Cabinet’s District 12, said that project, totaling nearly $25 million, still shows it as incomplete because Kay and Kay’s remaining work can’t be competed until another contractor finishes its responsibilities. “All their work’s finished, but they have to tie in the abutments to the roadway, and the roadway is not finished,” George said. “The New U.S. 460 is 16.7 miles long, and it will go all the way to the Virginia state line, and it’s a $600 million project. It started in 2001 and will take until 2015 to complete.” The Cabinet’s Web site reports that construction on the first phase of the U.S. 460 widening project in Pike County is 53 percent complete.  George said that another project in Pike County, which had a completion date of just over two weeks, was finished July 24, but state records have not been updated to reflect that. But the same can’t be said for the Shelbyville’s bypass, which state officials had hoped to complete this year. As of the company’s last report to the state, 144 working days still remained. Ten days in the last two weeks were too wet for Kay and Kay to work, state officials said. In his letter last month to Montell, Prather wrote, “We recognize that this particular project had too many working days assigned to it.” Montell said Tuesday that he has set a meeting date for Aug. 14 among state officials, Kay and Kay officials, himself, and Sen. Gary Tapp, to discuss the issue.