• City demands action from Jacobs Engineering over sign snafu


    FOX UNDERCOVER (MyFoxBoston.com) -- The city of Boston is demanding thousands of dollars from one of its contractors after a FOX Undercover investigation revealed signs all over the city were pointing drivers in the wrong direction.

    The move comes as Boston has now removed nearly 100 signs after earlier attempts to fix them didn't address a newfound extent of the problem.

    For starters, there were plenty of examples like the signs on Forsyth Street. Signs for Route 9 East and West were both pointed in the same direction.

    On Columbus Avenue, we found a sign for Route 28 East, even though Route 28 only travels north and south. There's even a correct Route 28 North sign on the other side of the intersection.

    We discovered the biggest blunders up and down Massachusetts Avenue and at all the cross streets -- Route 2A East signs that actually have an arrow pointing west, and Route 2A West signs pointing east.

    Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, who took office after the signs were installed last summer, vowed to clean up the mess.

    "We're just going to go out and make sure that they're all facing the right direction," he told FOX Undercover's Mike Beaudet in February.

    But changing the arrows, it turned out, didn't solve all the problems. Many of the Route 2A signs along Massachusetts should never have been placed there at all, regardless of where the arrow was pointing. Route 2A ends at Commonwealth Avenue and does not travel the length of Massachusetts Avenue through the Back Bay and South End, as the city's erroneous signs indicated.

    "It was bad enough when the road signs were pointing in the wrong direction. It turns out this isn't even Route 2A?" Beaudet asked Boston Transportation Department interim Commissioner Jim Gillooly.

    "That's correct," Gillooly replied. "This is Murphy's Law coming into play. One error compounded by another error."

    "How does that happen?" Beaudet asked.

    "Well somebody missed the boat," Gillooly said.

    That somebody is Jacobs Engineering Group, the contractor hired by the city.

    Jacobs Engineering has not responded to numerous requests from FOX Undercover for comment but now has to answer to the city, which wrote recently to the firm "demanding payment for defective work."

    The city's letter asks for $13,422 "for costs the city incurred in paying for a faulty plan, and in correcting the improper installation of signs...."

    Jacobs Engineering even inspected the work after the signs were installed but didn't notice the problems. The city's top transportation official admits the city never inspected all the work.

    "Shouldn't the city have noticed this?" Beaudet asked him.

    "Well you would think so. You would think so. I wish we had. I wish we had spotted it before you did," Gillooly said.

    So does Mayor Walsh.

    "They should have been noticed long before they were noticed," Walsh said in a recent interview. "Clearly there's a problem here with the company and the way they laid out the plans for the signs. It's unacceptable, as far as I'm concerned. When we bring a private company into the city to do a service like this, we expect them to do it correctly."

    The city has not yet heard back from Jacobs Engineering on its demand for payment. But in its letter to Jacobs, the city says it may take legal action against the company if it doesn't pay for its mistakes.

    In the future, Walsh wants the city to inspect the work of outside contractors.

    "Should (Jacobs Engineering) continue to do work with the city?" Beaudet asked.

    "Well we're going to go through the process before I can make that determination and see how the end result is," Walsh said.

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