Ever since its passage last summer, North Carolina’s so-called “lien agent statute” has caused much consternation throughout the commercial construction industry, with many contractors, subs and suppliers worried that it will be inconvenient and expensive for them to comply with the statute’s various requirements (which I’ll be discussing in detail as my “Lien & Bond Law Revolution” series continues in the weeks ahead). The title insurance industry, however, has tried to assure leery potential lien claimants that an online application will make filing preliminary lien notices convenient and inexpensive.This week, we’ll get down to where the rubber meets the road on that assurance. Continue reading
Category Archives: Events
I’m excited to be one of five North Carolina lawyers participating in a series of seminars sponsored by CarolinasAGC aimed at helping the construction industry understand the significant lien and bond revisions passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Perdue earlier this summer.
Over the coming weeks, CAGC is sponsoring five such seminars in Durham, Wilmington, Greensboro, Charlotte and Asheville. CAGC’s website describes each seminar as follows:
This two hour seminar will cover the major, recently enacted revisions to North Carolina’s lien and public bond law statutes. House Bill 1052 and Senate Bill 42 were signed into law this July, and will take effect respectively in January and April 2013. The new laws substantially modify the steps that all parties will have to take to protect their interests — regardless of whether they are an owner, buyer, contractor or sub/supplier. In particular, the new laws impose significant new notice requirements for both public and private work. This seminar will be taught by attorneys that were intimately involved in passing the legislation and will cover in detail what the changes are and what you’ll need to do to protect your interests starting in 2013. Attendees will receive a written summary of the lien laws as amended and a copy of the Power Point
presentation presented and have ample opportunity to ask questions from the presenting attorneys.
As reported in the Fayetteville Observer over the weekend, the N.C. Department of Transportation (“NCDOT”) is moving forward with its $4.4 billion (yep, that’s “billion” with a “b”) plan to widen I-95 from four to six lanes through implementation of tolling on this critical 182-mile transportation corridor.
Why tolls? To quote the story:
The reason is money. [NCDOT] figures show the state has roughly $45 billion in projects to complete by 2020. But the state expects to have only about $9 billion to spend on those projects. The funding gap would mean many key projects would have to be postponed for years.
To the extent current conditions, anticipated usage and a comparison of the available alternatives dictate that lane expansion is necessary — issues I have not researched thoroughly and therefore cannot opine upon — I can understand why NCDOT officials are seeking federal approval for converting I-95 to a toll road. The divisive political environment pervading our nation’s capital virtually guarantees that no new federal infrastructure investment, beyond what the state is already receiving year-in and year-out on average, can be expected anytime soon. That means end-users, and not taxpayers, are going to have to foot the bill if this ambitious widening project is to move forward now.
However, with the price of 87-octane currently hovering around $3.70 per gallon, I suspect the public’s reaction to the tolling plan could be vocally negative. We’ll know shortly whether these suspicions are confirmed, as the NCDOT is conducting informal hearings up and down the corridor between tomorrow and February 27. If you’re interested in attending, a complete calendar of the hearings can be found here. And for more information, including a chance to review the “I-95 Corridor Planning & Finance Study Environmental Assessment” recently authored by NCDOT’s consultants, head on over to www.driving95.com.
What’s my view on this as a construction law matter, as opposed to a public policy and/or political matter? Well, I’ve spent a bit of time perusing those portions of the Study related to the financing of the project, keeping in mind that other states have utilized public-private partnerships (“PPPs”) in the design and construction of new toll facilities. Under a PPP, one or more private partners invests up-front in the design and construction of the infrastructure in question, and is subsequently reimbursed though (and profits by) tolling. As best as I can tell, however, the Study does not indicate whether NCDOT is still considering the PPP option.
I’m curious about this angle to the story, since PPP’s introduce a host of issues of interest to construction law attorneys: Would the construction contract(s) be awarded to the “lowest responsible bidder” within the statutory sealed bid framework, or by some other competitive or negotiated process? How transparent would the procurement process be? Would statutory bonding requirements for public projects apply? What project-level communications challenges might be created through the involvement of a private partner? Would the government, its private partner or both have authority to terminate a contractor for cause? How might typical contractual risk allocations be shifted? I’m sure my fellow construction law practitioners could suggest a score of others.
I’ll be keeping my eyes on both the PPP-angle to this story and other developments, so please stay tuned.
Interested in federal procurement? Then you may want to check out the the 2011 North Carolina Federal Construction (FEDCON) & Infrastructure Summit (formerly known as the MILCON Summit) on October 19-20, 2011 at the beautiful new Wilmington Convention Center in Wilmington, North Carolina, completed by J.M. Thompson Company of Cary about a year ago. Details on the Summit can be found here.