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Contractor says missing devices caused Tappan Zee lighting breakdown

The specifications for a $17.7 million lighting contract for the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement omitted a crucial component, according to a lawsuit; no surge protectors were required.

Seaport Lighting Inc. sued Tappan Zee Constructors, the joint venture that designed and built the bridge on March 14 in U.S. District Court in White Plains. The Laguna Beach, California, wholesale electrical supplier is demanding $781,245 for extra expenses it incurred on the contract.

tappan zee mario m. cuomo bridge“Had Seaport been permitted to use a distributor of its choosing with the know-how for a project such as this,” the complaint states, “it would be one less factor contributing to the product malfunctions.”

The lawsuit also names Lightstyle Automated Systems Inc., a San Diego lighting distributor; Signify North America Corp., a Somerset, New Jersey affiliate of Netherlands-based Signify; and Welsbach Electrical Corp., a Queens electrical contractor.

“We never comment on legal proceedings,” Elco van Groningen, Signify’s spokesperson, said in an email. None of the other contractors responded to requests for comment.

The TZC joint venture solicited Seaport in 2014 to procure the bridge lights. Signify, according to the complaint, was specified as the lighting manufacturer and Lightstyle as the distributor.

Seaport claims it wanted to work directly with Signify or chose its own distributor, “to ensure quality control,” but TZC rejected the requests.

Seaport said its specifications included surge protectors, a device that blunts voltage spikes that can damage electrical equipment. But an earlier “revised scope of work” allegedly did not include surge protectors.

Seaport claims it alerted TZC to the discrepancy.

Seaport bought the lights from Lightstyle for $12.6 million. Welsbach, which had a separate contract with TZC, installed them.

The bridge lights began to malfunction in October 2017, according to the complaint, for lack of surge protectors.

Seaport claims that its work was delayed and it incurred extra costs because Lightstyle and Signify did not perform according to the project’s specifications.

“TZC has continued to engage in various stalling techniques to keep the project open without payment to Seaport,” the complaint states, “while the issues related to the malfunctioning products are resolved.”

Seaport accuses TZC, Lightstyle, Signify and Welsbach of negligence and all but Welsbach of breach of contract.

The TZC joint venture is a consortium of American Bridge Co., Fluor Enterprises, Granite Construction Northeast and Traylor Brothers Inc.

The Tappan Zee project has cost about $4 billion. Gov. Andrew Cuomo had the new bridge named after his father, as the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge.

Seaport is represented by attorney Joshua E. Mackey of Millbrook.


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