The Durham City Council postponed a discussion Monday night on whether to do business with a company that has a history of labor and safety violations.
The council referred the issue on whether it should award a contract to Triangle Grading and Paving to City Attorney Patrick Baker.
Baker said he and others met with the Burlington-based company Monday afternoon and that he wants a little more time to synthesize his notes and options in the legal analysis that he will provide to the City Council. The council could discuss the matter as early as its work session Thursday afternoon, Baker said.
The postponement comes after City Councilman Charlie Reece raised questions at a Dec. 19 work session about the company’s past violations.
At that work session, Public Works Director Marvin Williams and his staff recommended that elected leaders award a $5.9 million contract to the company to construct a new Carver Street extension from Danube Lane to the intersection of Old Oxford Highway and Hamlin Road. Triangle Grading and Paving was the lowest bidder on the project. The next-to-lowest bid was $86,250 more than Triangle Grading and Paving’s proposal.
The city hasn’t awarded a contract to Triangle Grading and Paving since 2011, when Luis Castaneda Gomez, 34, of Durham and Jesus Martinez Benitez, 32, of Clayton died inside an 11-foot-deep manhole while helping to build a new section of Durham’s water system along U.S. 70 near the Raleigh border.
The N.C. Department of Labor fined the construction company $16,000 for what it determined were four serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of North Carolina.
Reece also expressed concern about U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement fining the company for hiring workers who are in the country illegally.
Since the 2011 incident, the company has hired a safety director, put together a detailed comprehensive safety program and its incident rate has been equal to or lower than the industry standard, city staffers said.