- Associated Press - Friday, October 2, 2015

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The Indiana Department of Transportation placed an asphalt plant owned by a Fort Wayne contractor on probation even as the company was building a state highway that the agency says is crumbling years earlier than expected.

The highway department wants Brooks Construction Co. to replace a 3-mile stretch of Indiana 25 near Logansport that was completed in 2012, or refund $5.15 million.

Agency officials found during 2011 that the company’s portable plant in Logansport was mixing blacktop that didn’t always meet specifications, INDOT spokesman Will Wingfield told The Indianapolis Star (http://indy.st/1hfLXmd ). Brooks Construction had to submit asphalt samples to the highway department each month for a year while the plant was on probation.

The mixtures the company provided looked fine on paper, and the sophisticated laboratory tests on the asphalt itself did not reveal the flaws until the project was complete, Wingfield said.

Brooks Construction Executive Vice President John Brooks said INDOT closely examined the company’s records throughout the process and paid Brooks an $18,000 bonus “for an asphalt mix that exceeded expectations.”

“INDOT conducted 72 tests on our asphalt at the time of (Indiana) 25 and all were approved,” Brooks said in a statement. “We complied with all INDOT specifications.”

Highway department officials said that portion of Indiana 25 began cracking and crumbling a year after it was paved in 2012 because the asphalt did not have enough sticky, oil-based binder to hold it together. The new four-lane roadway - part of the Hoosier Heartland Highway between Lafayette and Fort Wayne - was expected to last 20 years.

INDOT Deputy Commissioner Robert Tally said lab tests showed the asphalt had a concentration of sticky, oil-based binder was much lower than what it should have been.

The highway department has said it is investigating whether as much as $71 million in faulty asphalt was used in 188 projects by 44 contractors statewide. Tally said the agency doesn’t have a timetable for the completion of the investigation.

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Information from: The Indianapolis Star, http://www.indystar.com

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