The Indiana Department of Transportation accused a highway contractor of using faulty asphalt and demanded the company replace a crumbling section of highway or refund $5.15 million.
The agency in a letter Friday to Fort Wayne-based Brooks Construction Co. gave the company one week to commit to returning the money or replacing three miles of the Hoosier Heartland Highway near Logansport that was completed in 2012, The Indianapolis Star reported.
The letter represents the agency's first action against a contractor since acknowledging last week that it suspects as much as $71 million in faulty asphalt was used in 188 projects across the state.
"Taxpayers in Indiana deserve to get what they pay for from contractors serving the state," Gov. Mike Pence said in a written statement.
Brooks Construction co-owner John Brooks said the company followed the state's specifications for asphalt on the Hoosier Heartland project and that the asphalt repeatedly passed state testing
"For more than 105 years, our family-owned business has taken tremendous pride in both customer service and the quality of our work," Brooks said in an email. "During this project, INDOT conducted 72 tests on our asphalt mix and all were approved. We complied with all INDOT specifications at the time of the construction."
Some road construction industry representatives have questioned whether new asphalt specifications from the state are to blame for crumbling roadways, but state officials have dismissed that notion.
INDOT said Brooks Construction's work on a four-lane stretch of the highway already is showing signs of deterioration, including large patches of crumbling pavement and cracks several inches wide. The pavement was supposed to last 20 years.
INDOT said the asphalt pavement provided by Brooks was not consistent with the material the company previously presented to INDOT in mix designs.
Brooks Construction won the $16 million, federally funded state contract in May 2010 and completed the work in 2012. INDOT officials said they've been in discussions with the company about problems with the blacktop for the past 10 months. The $5.15 million represents the cost of the asphalt.
"With this road deteriorating at an alarming rate and with winter approaching, INDOT must move to resolution on this matter," INDOT Deputy Commissioner Robert Tally wrote to Brooks.
Tally said the company used stone that absorbs large amounts of a petroleum binder that holds asphalt together, leaving too little to prevent the asphalt from breaking apart.
Two top Republican lawmakers said last week they were considering an independent investigation into the asphalt issues.