Terrebonne is fighting legal battle over delays in the construction of Hollywood Road

The Terrebonne Parish government has filed a federal lawsuit seeking the testimony of two federal employees in a financial dispute over the Hollywood Road widening project.

Conti Enterprises Inc., a New Jersey-based developer, filed a lawsuit in 2015 in Houma State District Court. He is seeking millions of dollars in damages related to road delays from Providence, the parish’s engineering company based in Houma; the parish government and the state transportation department.

Conti claims he owes him over $ 2.3 million for direct costs and over $ 2.2 million for overheads incurred for 324 days of delay on the busy Houma road.

Conti argues in court documents that the delays resulted in “additional work performed beyond the scope of the contract and the conditions initially agreed to by Conti, as well as a substantial delay in the project”.

The parish of Terrebonne maintains that the Department of Transportation is responsible for all alleged problems with the project because it acted as the administrator of the program on behalf of the Federal Highway Administration.

The parish denied having any responsibility for the delays in the project and also sued Conti.

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In an effort to be excluded from the trial, the parish requested depositions from two Federal Highway Administration officials, but the agency did not allow those officials to provide out-of-court testimony.

In a lawsuit filed April 6 in the US District Court in New Orleans, Terrebonne is asking the Federal Court to overturn the federal highways agency’s refusal of its request to allow the two employees to testify.

Terrebonne said the depositions of the two officials are important because they contain information relevant to Conti’s allegations.

“Denying TPCG the right to receive requested depositions may constitute a violation of TPCG’s due process under the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution,” the parish said in court documents.

The Terrebonne lawsuit names the US Department of Transportation, US Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, the Federal Highway Administration and agency administrator Stephanie Pollack as defendants.

Parish president Gordy Dove said he was doing what he could to remove Terrebonne from the conflict.

“I think the contractor is suing the engineer and we were drawn into the lawsuit,” he said. “It’s between the engineer and the contractor, not the parish. We are not suing anyone for any monetary value. We just want to get out of it because it’s not our trial. They basically blame each other for some issues they are having. We are working on our way, so hopefully everything will be resolved.

Completed in 2016, the $ 24 million project widened Houma’s Hollywood Highway between La. 311 and Martin Luther King Boulevard from two to four lanes. Design and construction took four years, but were stalled by the relocation of utilities – water, drainage, cables and electricity – and other issues.

The federal government paid 80% of the project and parish taxpayers paid the remaining 20%.

The Hollywood Road expansion plan began in 1996 with then-parish president Barry Bonvillain.

The legal team representing Terrebonne in the lawsuit consists of parish lawyer Julius Hebert, his deputy Brian J. Marceaux and lawyers Houma Courtney Alcock and Patrick Yancey.

Editor Dan Copp can be reached at 448-7639 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @DanVCopp.

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