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Road Commission debunks contractor corruption

ALPENA, Mich. — Although people can make use of the Bagley Street bridge this winter, the rehab project technically remains incomplete. Some on social media have suggested the contractor caused delays on purpose to milk the project for more money. We spoke with the Road Commission to learn how these claims check out.

Ryan Brege, Managing Director at the Alpena County Road Commission, said a misunderstanding is likely to blame for local claims of contractor corruption. Specifically, he believes some people may not know how contractors are paid.

Brege said compensation is based on steps of the project called “pay items.”

“Every project has a number of pay items on it. So a contractor isn’t paid a lump sum for a project, nor are they paid an hourly rate.”

In other words, when the contractor completes an item, the county pays them accordingly.

“Concrete deck placement is paid at a certain dollar amount per square yard. For example, the Bagley bridge had 182 pay items on it.”

Based on this pay structure, there’s no incentive to delay the project. But what do obstacles mean for the contract?

“The challenges we faced on the north side of the bridge are a really good example. Some pay items were actually reduced by that, but we had to add in new pay items because it’s a completely different design.”

Brege added the odds of getting swindled are also low because the state keeps a record of average costs for various pay items.