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Contractor sues Transbay Transit Center authority for $150 million

Webcor claims breach of contract, points the finger at Transbay Joint Powers over delays and cost overruns

Photos by Brock Keeling

On Wednesday, Webcor/Obayashi Joint Venture [WOJV], the contractor that built the multibillion dollar Salesforce Transit Center and Transbay Transit Center, announced its lawsuit against the Transbay Joint Powers Authority [TJPA] for $150 million, claiming breach of contract.

The suit actually has nothing to do with the transit center’s ongoing structural woes—the new building remains closed indefinitely while the city investigates the cause of cracking in key support beams.

Instead, WOJV alleges that TJPA is trying to skip out on part of the bill for the building by passing the buck on the project’s earlier problems.

In part, the suit filed in San Francisco Superior Court reads:

During the course of the project, elected officials, transit advocates, and news media pilloried TJPA for its management failures, numerous errors, cost overruns, and exorbitant travel costs. [...] TJPA now unjustifiably seeks to pass on responsibility for delays and cost overruns to WOJV and its subcontractors. [...] With knowledge of the reasons for the project delays, TJPA has refused to extend the contract time.

The contractor alleges that TJPA is holding out on payments owed to WOJV and its subcontractors by shifting blame for delays.

WOJV credits itself in the suit for “making the critical decisions needed to keep the project on time and on budget” while claiming that the authority has hampered the entire thing.

Of course, the Transbay Transit Center opened neither on time nor on budget. But these comments relate to the fact that the project is a multi-phase endeavor that’s still underway, and this suit addresses the upcoming second step in final construction as well as the completed first phase.

Photo by Brock Keeling

TJPA director Mohammed Nuru issued a statement in response Wednesday, alleging that it’s the contractor to blame for the delay:

The Transbay Joint Powers Authority will hold Webcor/Obayashi Joint Venture responsible for their contractual commitment to deliver this project to the people of the Bay Area and the state of California.

While we are still reviewing the details of the complaint, at first glance, many of the accusations that deal with delays to the project pre-date Webcor’s repeated commitments to deliver the transit center on time.

This is the latest in a series of lawsuits around the new building. In fact, WOJV itself is now being sued by the company that manufactured the transit center steel, a suit that at times sounds remarkably similar to this latest filing, alleging that WOJV mismanagement led to delays and cost overruns on that contract.