HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — A whistleblower came to 10 On Your Side last summer with evidence that a subcontractor had faked quality control videos on the I-64 widening project on the Peninsula.
VDOT investigated and found that the allegations against Roadside, Inc. of Seaford were true, and has suspended the company for one year from state projects.
The quality control videos are intended to show that the installed pipe is free from dirt, rocks, water and any crushing.
The whistleblower says the penalty should be stiffer for faking the videos, and a local transportation official says knowing what he knows right now, he wouldn’t want Roadside back.
“They should be outraged, everybody should be outraged,” said Lucius Alston, a former Roadside labor foreman who showed VDOT and 10 On Your Side bogus quality control videos on one of Hampton Roads’ most critical highway projects.
Roadside installed underdrain beneath highways — that’s the system that keeps the road foundation from failing. The videos were submitted for the project’s segment two, the widening of the highway from milepost 242 to 247, roughly from Colonial Parkway to Yorktown Road in York County.
York County Supervisor Tom Shepperd has seen the results of VDOT’s investigation.
“[The report shows] indications of fraudulent activity, non-compliance with contracts — and contracts are basically your word,” Shepperd said.
Shepperd also serves on the Hampton Roads Transportation Accountability Commission.
“The lack of response to VDOT’s investigation, asking for information, they’re not providing it so what does that tell you? It tells you you have a problem here with this company,” he said.
“I was just doing what I was told,” said former Roadside laborer Anthony Wiggins. He says he was told to install bad drain pipe.
“We covered that old pipe up that still had water and everything in it. It should have been taken up,” he said.
That’s why Alston says Roadside submitted fake video that showed clear, unobstructed pipe instead of what was actually installed. VDOT found that Roadside violated state regulations on I-64 and three other highway projects. Alston feels a one-year suspension is not enough.
“They’ve just been banned for a year and then they can start all over again. They can bid on jobs again and work again. That’s unbelievable to me how (VDOT) would let that happen.”
But the suspension isn’t necessarily limited to one year.
After the year is up, Roadside can re-apply to get back on the state contractor list. VDOT can extend the suspension indefinitely if Roadside shows no improvement.
“If they have not cleaned up their act and they are put back on that list, I would be really upset,” Shepperd said.
Bobby Dean of Seaford runs and co-owns Roadside. 10 On Your Side visited his office on George Washington Memorial Highway. His truck was parked outside, but staff members told us he was not there.
VDOT documents say: “Roadside has not made any plans or implemented any new procedures to correct the problems.” They also show Dean’s mother, Bonnie Dean, as the company president.
We visited her home in Seaford and got no response, except for a “no comment” text a few hours later, warning us not to return.
VDOT estimated it would cost $740,000 to replace any affected underdrain pipe. The general contractor Allan Myers got stuck with those repairs, and that company told us it has completed the work at no cost to the commonwealth.
Allan Myers told us last year the company fired one of its employees for being complicit in Roadside’s fraud. Keep in mind — this whole issue with fake videos started after a subcontractor on major highway projects was allowed to do its own quality control.
“The whole time I was there, I thought that was crazy, how somebody could install it and then inspect it,” aid Alston, who was with Roadside more than ten years.
But that’s the legacy of Alston’s revelations. VDOT has changed its rules.
Now, a third party does the quality control.
Roadside is also under federal investigation, and we will follow up on those results as well as what VDOT determines once Roadside’s one-year suspension is up.