With the Future of Highway Construction in Colorado Uncertain, Now Is the Time to Be Cautious
The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) is accelerating highway construction projects across the state. With reduced traffic thanks to people staying home during the ongoing pandemic, this is the perfect time for construction on the Central 70 project, I-25 South Gap project, and other major road projects to move ahead. Many of these projects are even ahead of schedule. Unfortunately, not all infrastructure projects in Colorado will be so lucky.
In this editorial, a Denver construction lawyer with Cotney Attorneys & Consultants discusses the ongoing situation in Colorado and how it may impact current and future construction projects. Specifically, we will be discussing how contractors can avoid litigation with a government agency by properly bidding, reviewing their contracts, and engaging in alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods. Before you bid on your next Denver construction project, be sure to set yourself up for success.
Colorado Pauses Dozens of Projects
As reported by The Denver Post, the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic “threatens to keep other major road projects across Colorado — including the bulk of a $1.6 billion list approved just five months ago — from even getting started.” Just as disheartening are the CDOT’s plans to pause dozens of projects that have yet to go through the bidding process. The CDOT’s understandable lack of confidence in the economy means that, now more than ever, contractors must consider bids and contracts with the utmost caution. And it all begins with the bidding process.
You have more power during the bidding process than you realize. Knowing your company’s limitations and negotiating with a government agency is one of the best ways to avoid a Denver construction dispute. Although an agency’s solicitation may seem set in stone, you can still convince the agency to make changes that are in your company’s best interest. This can be done during a pre-proposal meeting or even through an alternative bid. The goal is to avoid pitfalls, such as delay damages, so that your company doesn’t encounter them during a project.
This is also your chance to look over the draft contract contained in the solicitation. If you’re looking to avoid costly litigation later in a project, ensure that this contract contains a method for resolving disputes. This is especially important on big-budget projects. Our Denver construction attorneys often tout how beneficial ADR methods are for resolving disputes on private projects. However, they can be just as effective on public projects. We’ll come back to the benefits of ADR methods a little later.
Although modern dispute resolution methods focus on prevention rather than mitigation, the COVID-19 pandemic is making disputes unavoidable in certain situations. As stated above, the future of the CDOT’s projects remains uncertain. Even big-budget projects are in jeopardy. Any contractor on one of these projects could find themselves in a position where they have no other choice but to file a request for equitable adjustment (REA) or a formal claim under the Contract Disputes Act. The preferred method for pursuing recovery should be determined on a case-by-case basis and should be decided on with the assistance of a Denver contractor lawyer.
Related: The Miller Act: Making a Claim
Whether you decide to submit a claim or file an REA, it’s important to take a step back and realize what you’re up against. You are going up against a government agency that doesn’t have to worry about attorney fees or months wasted on litigation. You may very well be entitled to time and/or money due to the poor decision making of a government agency, but that will mean very little if you are bled dry from pursuing recovery. For this reason, it’s in your best interest to end a dispute as quickly as possible, which brings us back to ADR methods.
Engaging in ADR Methods
ADR methods, such as mediation and arbitration, are invaluable for helping parties reach a satisfactory resolution without the need to present their arguments in court. More often than not, parties reach a settlement long before litigation is pursued. With communities depending on these big-budget highway projects, it’s simply in no one’s best interest to draw out a dispute. Before you go down the road of filing a claim, be sure to consult a Denver construction mediation lawyer for assistance.
Partnering With the Right Team
At Cotney Attorneys & Consultants, we understand the incredible pressure that construction companies are under. Not only do you have to submit nearly flawless bids, but you must also consider how to best pursue recovery from a government agency with nearly limitless resources. These are difficult challenges, but they can be surmounted with the assistance of a Denver contractor attorney.
If you’re concerned that the COVID-19 pandemic has stacked the odds against your company, consider partnering with our construction law firm. We can assist with the bidding process, bid protests, contract review, and dispute resolution. If at any time your company needs assistance on an infrastructure project, remember the team of attorneys from Cotney Attorneys & Consultants.
If you would like to speak with one of our Denver construction dispute attorneys, please contact us today.