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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. DRISCOLL CONSTRUCTION CO. (01/13/78)

decided: January 13, 1978.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, PETITIONER
v.
DRISCOLL CONSTRUCTION CO., INC., RESPONDENT



Appeal from the Order of the Board of Arbitration of Claims in case of Driscoll Construction Co., Inc. v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Department of Transportation, No. 379.

COUNSEL

Arthur H. Marateck, Assistant Attorney General, with him Robert W. Cunliffe, Deputy Attorney General, and Robert P. Kane, Attorney General, for petitioner.

Joseph J. Carlin, with him Harold J. Conner, for respondent.

Judges Wilkinson, Jr., Rogers and DiSalle, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Rogers.

Author: Rogers

[ 33 Pa. Commw. Page 297]

The Commonwealth's Department of Transportation (PennDOT) has filed a Petition for Review of a judgment rendered by the Board of Arbitration of Claims against it and in favor of Driscoll Construction Company, Inc. in the amount of $85,278.10 with interest from December 31, 1975.

Driscoll was awarded a contract for the construction of sewers under the Delaware Expressway in Philadelphia. The original bid proposal submitted to prospective bidders contained the following Special Requirement:

(4) Unsuitable Material -- Where it is necessary, at the direction of the Engineer, to excavate unsuitable material and replace it with sand, stone, or rough board to provide a base for the placement of concrete, no payment will be made for such excavation below the approved limit of excavation shown on the drawings.

At a pre-bid conference a prospective bidder complained that the quoted provision was ambiguous and that it would allow PennDOT's engineer to require excavation and the supply of materials without limit and virtually without compensation. PennDOT agreed to the removal of this provision and it did not appear in the bid proposal finally used or in Driscoll's contract.

In the course of construction, Driscoll encountered an area in which the soil was, by its witnesses' description,

[ 33 Pa. Commw. Page 298]

"soupy, sloppy silt," unsuitable for pouring concrete sewers. After attempting unsuccessfully to dry the area by pumping, Driscoll excavated 1,722.79 cubic yards of unsuitable soil which it replaced with 1,722.79 cubic yards of crushed stone at a cost of $85,278.10.

Our scope of review in appeals from the Board of Arbitration of Claims is narrow. Section 8(c) of the Act of May 20, 1937, P.L. 728, as amended, 72 P.S. ยง 4651-8(c), provides that: "The findings of the board [of Arbitration of Claims] as to the facts, if supported by substantial evidence, shall be conclusive." In Santis Construction, Inc. v. Department of Transportation, 25 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 460, 462, 361 A.2d 444, 445-46 (1976), we declared: "In appeals from Board orders, we are bound by the Board's findings of fact if such are supported by ...


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