Louisville bridges toll consultant sues Kentucky over ouster - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Louisville bridges toll consultant sues Kentucky over ouster

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) – Kentucky officials failed to justify their decision to fire a tolling consultant on the Ohio River Bridges Project last year, the ousted company claims in a lawsuit filed Thursday.

The eTrans Group accuses the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet of meddling with the contract, including trying to get eTrans to hire “persons not needed and unsuitable for the project,” asking for work outside the contract’s scope and “generally interfering in the timing and performing of the work.”

It also alleges that the state Finance and Administration Cabinet -- under the leadership of secretaries appointed by both former Gov. Steve Beshear and current Gov. Matt Bevin – didn’t rule on the dispute as required under Kentucky law.

eTrans of Lander, Wyo., filed the breach-of-contract lawsuit in Franklin Circuit Court. The company is seeking $3.45 million plus interest, in addition to other unspecific damages.

The Finance Cabinet will be reviewing the lawsuit to determine its options, spokeswoman Pamela Trautner said.

The Transportation Cabinet declined to comment because the lawsuit is pending, spokesman Ryan Watts said.

The bridges project’s four-member joint board, which includes top transportation and finance officials in Kentucky and Indiana, chose eTrans in February 2015 to serve as the states’ toll adviser. The role involved ensuring that the all-electronic toll system on the Interstate 65 Kennedy and Lincoln bridges and an upriver span near Utica, Ind., is installed and working properly. 

But the joint board removed eTrans about four months later, saying the company failed to meet its expectations. The Transportation Cabinet previously had claimed eTrans had defaulted on its contract.

eTrans filed a protest with the Finance Cabinet last July.

Trautner told WDRB News in April that the sides were working towards an resolution. In addition, she said then, the parties had agreed to waive the 120-day limit by which the disputes must be resolved under Kentucky law.

But eTrans alleges in the lawsuit that Beshear’s former Finance Secretary Lori Flanery never issued a decision, nor has Bevin-appointed Finance Secretary William M. Landrum III, as required by law.

The joint board voted last June to replace eTrans with Parsons Transportation Group of Pasadena, Calif., for “a term not to exceed six months,” but Kentucky sought an exemption from the state’s competitive bidding rules in January to keep Parsons in place.

At its meeting last month, the joint board approved keeping Parsons as toll adviser until 2017. The company is operating under a contract with the Indiana Department of Transportation.

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