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Posted on: October 27, 2017


IRMA - Debris Removal Big Pine-2 LR.jpg

MONROE COUNTY, FL – AshBritt Inc., Monroe County’s debris removal contractor for Hurricane Irma, sent the County an email on Oct. 25 with a complaint for “Declaratory Relief.” In the legal complaint, AshBritt Inc. is suing Monroe County and the Florida Department of Transportation, alleging that it is no longer responsible for clean-up operations between Mile Marker 16 and Mile Marker 40 in the Keys and asks the Court to declare the same thing.

"The County will defend this lawsuit, but our main priority is to ensure that hurricane debris is removed from all of unincorporated Monroe County as quickly as possible, and without delays,” Monroe County Administrator Roman Gastesi said. “Our residents have been through some tough times and removing the debris is a major part of our recovery and rebuilding.”

The County entered into a contract with AshBritt to handle its hurricane debris removal in unincorporated Monroe County. With AshBritt having difficulties finding resources to fulfill the contract after Hurricane Irma struck on Sept. 10, Monroe County accepted the assistance of the Florida Department of Transportation. 

It was agreed FDOT would remove the debris along the state right of way along U.S. 1 and on the County roads between Mile Marker 16 and Mile Marker 40 in the Lower Keys – and that AshBritt would remove debris in the rest of unincorporated Monroe County.

Last week, FDOT Secretary Mike Dew sent the County a letter stating that FDOT "will remove our emergency response crews between Mile Markers 16-40 by close of business on Friday, October 27.”

County Administrator Roman Gastesi and County Director or Engineering Services Judy Clarke, who is spearheading the debris removal effort for the County, held a conference call with FDOT, and formally requested that FDOT continue to remove debris from Mile Markers 16 to 40 until a transition plan can be put in place. 

“We are very appreciative of all that FDOT has done to help Monroe County remove the unprecedented amount of hurricane debris from our hardest hit areas,” Gastesi said. “We are hopeful that FDOT will continue to work with us to ensure that there is no gap in the removal of debris so our residents can rebuild their lives.”

AshBritt told the County it would not mobilize to the area between MM 16 and MM 40 unless it received significant rate increases and modifications to its contract. The County told Ashbritt it must honor its existing contract. The County also cannot increase its rates to an existing contractor and get full reimbursement from FEMA.

After Ashbritt was told the County could not change the contract, Ashbritt filed the complaint.

While the contract is in dispute, the County has begun to make alternative plans to possibly hire a new contractor to complete the hurricane debris removal from MM 16 to MM 40.

“AshBritt has left the County no choice but to find an alternative contractor,” Clarke said. “But trucks continue to work seven days a week in the County. We have removed a tremendous amount of debris, approaching 1 million cubic yards, in a short time. We will continue to work to remove all the debris as quickly as we can.”

In unincorporated Monroe County, the City of Layton and along U.S. 1, Ashbritt and FDOT contractors have combined to collect 950,000 cubic yards of vegetative and construction and demolition debris, and more than 5,000 white goods (major appliances).

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Monroe County
1100 Simonton Street
Key West FL, 33040