Saturday, February 15, 2014

Chris Shelton letter to editor re our Commissioners, Pate and the bridge

What are some of the commissioners trying to hide on this bypass project? Probably the same thing they have been hiding for years! Lack of business experience and no concern for rising cost to the taxpayers.
The problem this time is that the public knows too much about the mistakes that have been made on this Bypass project by Pate Transportation that's going to cost us millions of tax dollars and it's just too big for the commissioners to hide from the public.
Our elected commissioners are not engineers but want to continue believing they are capable of the management and understanding of a road project that was supposed to cost $168 million dollars. The commissioners hired Pate Transportation Partners to design and oversee the bypass project. Change orders approved by the commissioners are continuing to climb with over 20 to date, totaling over 1.2 million dollars. No one is willing to take responsibility for these costly mistakes when Pate is being paid $6.8 million dollars to oversee and daily manage the project. When does it come time for the commissioners to realize they're way over their heads? I don't know if it's arrogance, the fear of not being reelected, just plain bad business practices, or protecting Pate Transportation feelings. My opinion along with all the citizens of Titus County that I have talked with, including large construction companies and engineering firms agree that on a project of this magnitude, Titus County needs to have representation from an experienced, qualified engineer that Pate Transportation files their report to along with commissioners.
In the last two commissioners meetings, with input from the tax payers Commissioner Riddle recommended that the county consider hiring a retired engineer to oversee the repair of the railroad bridge mistake on the south end of the project and any other portions of the proj! ect for FREE (just expenses and fuel). The first meeting it was tabled for the next commissioners meeting held Monday Jan 10th 2014. Commission Riddle again made a good argument stating that Pate is only looking out for Pate and we need someone looking out for us, the taxpayers of Titus County. Commissioner Riddle did not get any support from the other commissioners or Judge Lee but instead Judge Brian Lee made a motion not to hire an engineer and was immediately seconded by commissioner Hockaday followed by votes from Fields, Lee, Hockaday and Hinton.
As reported by The Dallas Morning News and The Forney Post, The City of Forney recently settled a law suit with Pate Transportation for $2 million dollars on their Pass Through Project. The city owed Pate $1.6 million dollars in change orders and decided to terminate their contract after contending Pate missed deadlines and were delaying $40 million dollars in reimbursement from Texas Department of Transportation and dozens of change orders. The City of Forney did not challenge or dispute that they owed Pate the $1.2 million dollars and had received a letter from Pate to the city stating that they were open to a mutual termination. The city of Forney did terminate the contract and Pate filed a law suit against Forney for $50 million dollars. The city of Forney counter sued Pate for the $40 million that was being delayed due to deadlines not being met and dozens of construction design flaws and change orders.
Judge Lee sent out a memo to all the commissioners with PROS and CONS of using an independent engineer working directly for the county, the PROS would be having full access to Pate's work might me good. CONS were how is Pate going to like a county employee constantly looking over their shoulder reporting info back to the commissioners they might not want to share. Are you kidding me ??? I don't know one person that pays taxes in Titus County that cares how Pate feels or cares except the commissioners and Judge Lee. Pate's feelings were put above the concerns of Titus County Citizens reflected in their vote not to hire an engineer for Pate to have to explain all the change orders and mistakes. It's time to start working for us the Citizens of Titus County and quit worrying about Pate's feelings. I can guarantee Pate is not worried about ours! From the time Property Acquisitions was hired by Pate to purchase land from citizens of Titus County for this Bypass Project most have been treated unfairly and there has been no concern for land owners feelings. Broken promises, strong arm tactics, and outright unethical business practices have been used.
All large construction companies have a staff of attorneys and engineers looking out for their best interest. Its past time for Titus County elected commissioners to start looking out for US. Or better yet elect new commissioners that have Titus County at their best interest.

Chris Shelton


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