For more than 10 years, Brazilian-based construction firm Odebrecht has made tons of money from Miami-Dade County public works projects. If anything, the company is consistent...at completing jobs behind schedule and charging the county more money to finish.
For example, Odebrecht accepted responsibility for having to repair 96 massive concrete beams that cracked
during construction of a parking garage in the late Nineties. The project came in $4 million over budget.
In a joint venture with two other contractors, Odebrecht was awarded the task of building the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in 2001. Two years into construction, the project was saddled with problems that resulted in disputes between the county, the architect and the construction firms.
The cultural facility opened in 2006, more than 800 days behind schedule and nearly $100 million over the original construction estimate. Odebrecht collected an additional $4.2 million on its original contract.
Then there was the south terminal fiasco at Miami International Airport. Odebrecht partnered with another firm, Parsons Corp., to build the new terminal which ended up hundreds of millions of dollars over budget and was delivered two years behind schedule. Odebrecht and Parsons sought to collect an additional $65 million.
Yet Odebrecht has continued to get more work from the county. The partnership with Parsons is building the $2.8 billion, 48-gate North Terminal project, as well as a $259 million, automated people mover system to run between Miami International Airport and the Miami Intermodal Center, a consolidated rental car facility and transportation hub. So far, according to Aviation Department spokesman Greg Chin, those projects are on schedule.
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Chin also noted that airport construction projects are paid with airport revenues and landing fees generated at Miami International Airport. "The only time a taxpayer contributes to construction at the airport is when they
fly here, pay for parking or buy merchandise," he said.
In other words, property taxes are not used to finance airport boondoggles. So taxpayer, the next time the Aviation Department comes to the County Commission requesting millions of dollars more to pay for Odebrect's construction screw-ups, quit your bellyachin'.
Tomorrow, we dissect how Odebrecht's man in Miami showers county commissioners with campaign contributions and more.