The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority reached a settlement agreement with the contract company responsible for the MoPac Improvement Project Tuesday.

The Mobility Authority said they have agreed to pay CH2M Hill $21.5 million to prevent future claims the contract company might pursue and to ensure the project is completed on deadline in 2018.

"This agreement is appropriate and allows for CTRMA and CH2M to put this matter in the rearview mirror and avoid years of litigation,” said CTRMA board chairman Ray Wilkerson.

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CH2M Hill has made various legal claims connected to the project’s delays. To settle those claims, the mobility authority and its contractor entered into the agreement for $21.5 million dollars. That is in addition to the millions already being paid to the contractor. CH2M Hill originally asked for $113 million.

“The Mobility Authority’s top priority is opening the full project as soon as possible and we’re confident this course of action will help achieve that goal,” said Dailey. “We believe the MoPac Improvement Project is an investment that will benefit Central Texans for decades to come, and that is a win for the community.”

The MoPac Improvement Project was drawn up to add a toll lane in each direction to help with traffic congestion on one of Austin's busiest highways. Its original completion date was slated for September 2015.

In the settlement agreement, CH2M Hill said they would finish the northbound express lanes by Friday, September 29. But because of weather, the construction may not completely finish on northbound lanes until next Saturday. The contractor would have the southbound Express Lane opened on Oct. 27, 2017, and the final project completed by September 2018. Otherwise, the contract company risks losing $50,000 to $100,000 per day for each day the project is late, the Mobility Authority said.

The total cost of the MoPac project is $233 million, according to the budget presented on Tuesday, September 26. A breakdown of the budget includes:

· $136.6M – CH2M Hill construction contract

· $21.8 – change orders (being paid to CH2M Hill)

· $2.5 – Settlement payment (paid to CH2M Hill)

· $5M – Miscellaneous work

· $68M – Development, legal, engineering, oversight, tolling, asbestos, communications

Subtracted from the budget is $20M for liquidated damages being taken away from CH2M Hill. A total of $160 million dollars is being paid to CH2M – including the settlement amount.

"Was it painful? Yes,” said board chairman Ray Wilkerson. “Was this project probably under budget? Yes. And probably missed the timing? Yes."

KVUE contacted CH2M Hill for comment, but the company said it would defer to CTRMA's statements.

The Mobility Authority noted that the settlement agreement would not impact toll rates.