Gardiner business sues over road work

By Liz Kearney
Enterprise Staff Writer

 

A local business owner, upset with the road construction in front of his shop last summer, has filed suit against a federal agency and a road construction contractor. 

Myron and Bev Kovash, of Livingston, individually and as the owners of their business, Yellowstone Gifts and Sweets, based in Gardiner, are suing the U.S. Department of Transportation and Riverside Contracting for losses, personal injury, and other damages suffered during a major road construction project adjacent to their business last summer, according to their complaint filed in 6th Judicial District Court in Livingston. 

In the complaint, the plaintiffs, the Kovashes, allege through the negligence of the defendants — the DOT and RCI — that they suffered losses to their business along with a personal injury to Bev Kovash. She suffered an injury tripping on an exposed bolt protruding from concrete and has had to have one surgery and may need a second, Myron Kovash said Tuesday. The complaint also sues for  “breach of contract,” alleging that Yellowstone Gifts and Sweets “is an intended third party beneficiary of the contract between the Department of Transportation and Riverside Contracting.” 

The contract stipulated, the complaint alleges, that “businesses have minimum disruptions and that adequate parking is available to patrons of businesses.” 

The complaint states the construction company violated its contract by failing to do the work as originally scheduled and then worked primarily during the busiest months of tourist season, and placed construction barrels, cones and “caution” tape that blocked access to Yellowstone Gifts and Sweets, among other related issues.

The complaint also states the business lost money compared to the same months in 2014, even though 2015 visitation to Yellowstone was higher than 2014 and reached record levels. 

The complaint further states the construction caused settling under a concrete base for a hand rail into the store and that during demolition and removal of old sidewalks, one of the store’s concrete load-bearing pillars was damaged and not repaired. 

Yellowstone Gifts and Sweets is located on Gardiner’s major route through town, at 108 S. Second St. Second Street is what U.S. Highway 89 South is called on the south side of the Yellowstone River bridge. 

The construction — part of the multi-year, multi-million dollar Gardiner Gateway Project — includes building sidewalks, curbs, retaining walls, storm drains, landscaping, and installing ornamental fences luminaires, according to Riverside Contracting’s website. In addition to Second Street, the work continued south to Gardiner’s major intersection, Second and Park Street and then west along the store fronts on West Park Street. Construction was also extended along East Park Street and portions of Robert Reamer Drive. Major road construction was underway most of the summer. 

The Kovashes are seeking an unspecified amount of monetary damages. The case was filed Jan. 20 by their attorney, Courtney Lawellin, of Livingston. 

Calls to both Lawellin and Riverside Contracting’s main office were not returned by press time Tuesday. 

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Liz Kearney may be reached at lkearney@livent.net.