LBJ Express Damage Claims Go on Trial

Contractor denies responsibility

The first of more than 150 claims that construction of the LBJ Express Project ruined neighbors' homes is before a Dallas jury this week.

The giant road project added a below-ground toll road to busy Interstate 635 in North Dallas.

"At first we thought it was great. They're redoing LBJ and everything. But then we started to notice damage," said Farmers Branch neighbor Steve Davis.

He said his home was in excellent condition in 2010 when he first moved in. Major road construction began in his area the next year, and Davis said around-the-clock pile driving kept him awake at night.

"And you could feel it. Every time they hit, you could hear it, you could feel it, you could hear the windows shake, rattle. It's a constant thing all through the night," Davis said.

Even though the project was finished in September 2015, Davis said cracks continue to grow throughout his home and in the concrete driveway outside.

"It's just not coincidence. It couldn't be," Davis said.

The first trial is for the home of Felipe and Aurora Rodriguez, but much of the same evidence would be used for all the other cases.

In opening statements Monday, a lawyer for the main project contractor, Trinity Infrastructure Group, said construction is not to blame for the problems.

"Look at the real evidence, the facts," said attorney Jon Paul Hoelscher. "You're going to agree with us, there really is no evidence to prove their claims."

Hoelscher said homes all over Dallas, nowhere near the construction site, have the same kind of problems with damaged slab foundations from shifting soil conditions.

Plaintiffs' attorney Dean Gresham told the jury Trinity Infrastructure Group is to blame. Gresham said the contractor failed to follow recommended monitoring of the soil, as excavation was underway for a depth the equivalent of a five-story building.

"Speed and profit took priority," Gresham said. "If you break something, you should fix it."

The first trial could last at least a week, and the jury's view of the evidence could help determine how the other cases will be handled.

Steve Davis said experts have told him his house may be beyond repair.

"It's going to cost us money to put everything is storage while this house is fixed or while we move or try and find another one. We've got to stay somewhere," he said.

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