• U.S. 74 contractor was barred from bidding on state projects

    By: Liz Foster

    Updated:

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The lead contractor on the Independence Boulevard widening project has walked off the job.

    After almost three years working to widen Independence Boulevard, DeVere Construction quit the project.

    As Channel 9 dug deeper into the DeVere, Eyewitness News learned the company was barred from bidding on state contracts in 2014 for delaying work on a highway bypass in Wake County.

    https://twitter.com/lizfosterWSOC9/status/694914298594902016

    Foster spoke with someone involved with the project who asked not to be identified.

    “They told us to just stop working,” the source said. “The company was done.”

    Foster went to DeVere’s office Tuesday near the construction site, but no one answered. The office was empty when she looked in a window.

    A notice from the North Carolina Department of Transportation was sent to DeVere, saying the company had to get back to work on the $51 million project by Monday or it would be in breach of its contract.

    “That’s surprising,” Greek Market owner Nick Marinakos said. “It seemed like they were making progress for a long time and then everything just kind of grinded to a halt.”

    https://twitter.com/lizfosterWSOC9/status/694649677543821315

    Marinakos, whose business in on U.S. 74, said the construction has affected business, especially because workers closed an entrance.

    “I really hope it doesn’t delay things further,” he said.

    The NCDOT did not respond to Foster’s question about whether the projected completion date of Oct. 15 will be pushed back.

    Independence Boulevard is not the only project affected. DeVere also walked away from constructing bridges over Mallard Creek.

    To find out why DeVere Construction backed out, Eyewitness News anchor Liz Foster tried calling the company’s office in Michigan when no one answered the phone at the Raleigh office. She again, had to leave a message.

    Channel 9 spoke with business managers and drivers on Independence who want answers too. They don’t believe the construction will be done in October, as the state’s Department of Transportation maintains.

    “There’s no way it’s going to be done by October,” said Todd Jacob, general manager of Driven Automotive. The business just opened three months ago. Jacob says road crews have had one of his two entrances closed the entire time.

    “I can’t afford to wait another 3-6 months or however long it’s going to be before they settle this,” Jacob said.

    Drivers hope work will resume too and construction will be over as soon as possible. “They just need to fix it,” Racravin Miller said.

    He lives near Independence and blames two flat tires on the construction area.

    In North Carolina, there has been one complaint of an employee claiming DeVere didn’t pay them, but it has been resolved. There are two, similar and open complaints currently against the company in Michigan, where it’s headquartered.

    According to North Carolina business records, the company’s leaders live in Michigan. Channel 9 called them too and hasn’t heard back.

    Eyewitness News found a lawsuit in Tennessee against DeVere that was filed by its employees and claims they didn’t get paid. A new plaintiff just joined it this week.

    Eyewitness News checked and the company has not filed for bankruptcy.

    Read more coverage:

     

    Next Up: