San Francisco wins court ruling allowing it to remove subcontractor from $13.7 million project

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Haight St. in San Francisco (Google Street View)
Haight St. in San Francisco (Google Street View)

San Francisco has won a state appeals court ruling to remove a subcontractor the city blamed for a series of gas leaks in 2015 on a Haight Street construction project that is still unfinished.

The city signed a $13.7 million contract with Ghilotti Bros. Inc. to renovate a stretch of Haight between Laguna and Ashbury streets, repaving the streets, replacing sewers and installing water mains, The San Francisco Chronicle reports. Ghilotti then subcontracted $7.5 million in excavation and utilities work to Synergy Project Management, which proceeded to break five gas lines in five months, causing leaks that twice shut down construction.

The appeals court ruling

Synergy asserted it wasn’t to blame, noting it had performed similar work safely in many San Francisco projects, and faulting Pacific Gas and Electric Co. for its placement of underground pipes. City officials demanded Synergy’s removal. After a fact-finding hearing, the hearing officer said the company’s poor and “highly dangerous” performance justified its replacement, but the contractor won a reprieve in a lower court ruling  — which the city successfully appealed.

Most of the Haight Street renovation work has been completed, but the installation of water mains was put on hold during a legal dispute about the city’s authority to remove the subcontractor, the Chronicle reported.

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