Lawsuit surrounding Venice runway

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VENICE, Fla. - Litigation is now ongoing surrounding the multi-million dollar runway resurfacing job at the Venice Municipal Airport. The company which lost out on the bid for the project says the company that won is not doing the work promised. They say taxpayers are paying for an inferior product.

Owens-Ames-Kimball Company won the more than $7 million bid and is currently redoing the aged runway just under a mile long.  Problem is, one of the competing companies, Asphalt Paving Systems, says they're not doing it like they said.

"Asphalt Paving Services is alleging in their complaint in court that the city did a bait and switch on the bid specifications." Representing taxpayers, Venice resident John Patten has joined in the lawsuit. "What this complaint is stating is that the runway that is being built will be vastly inferior to the one that was originally bid out."

The company doing the work received permission from the city to use more cement in the blending process says Mayor John Holic. "Apparently that equipment was not readily available. They are doing it in an alternative method."

"Yet Asphalt Paving Services says they have that equipment," says Patten.

Holic says the work is compatible. "The project engineer has said that the process that is currently being used on the airport is a proper process. That the specifications are being met or exceeded."

The federal agency which is paying for the vast majority of the project is apparently okay with how it is being handled says Holic. "The FAA has been contacted and the FAA finds no fault in the process the way it is."

The plaintiffs contend it's also cheaper for the contractor. "It is about a $300,000 savings which is going into contractors pocket that he didn't tell the city about."

Holic says that is something which may need to be looked at. "I would leave that up to staff to determine if there is any money due back to the city."

As does the work the lawsuit continues. "After the bid was accepted the specifications were changed. You are not allowed to do that."

Monday the plaintiffs offered to resolve the lawsuit if an independent expert is allowed to examine the quality and cost of the work. Even offering to pay for the expert if they are wrong.