MassDOT: Hi-Way Safety Systems can once again bid on state, local projects months after drug-fueled holiday party scandal

BOSTON — Less than five months after the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) barred Hi-Way Safety Systems (HSS) from bidding on state projects following a drug-fueled company party that lead to a former employee allegedly driving drunk and killing a teenage girl, the state agency has reinstated the company’s prequalification status, thus allowing them to once again obtain state contracts.

MassDOT: Hi-Way Safety Systems can no longer bid on state contracts

A MassDOT spokesperson told Boston 25 News the company made several changes – including to its ownership – that resulted in their prequalification certification being reinstated.

“The Massachusetts Department of Transportation has reinstated prequalification for Hi-Way Safety Systems, Inc., after the company agreed to a monitorship (sic) arrangement by an outside legal firm, removed Ken Horn as one of the firm’s owners, changed its board membership, established new corporate bylaws and related documents, and adopted a code of ethics,” said MassDOT spokesperson Jacquelyn Goddard. “Based on this decision, Hi-Way Safety Systems is allowed to bid on projects with MassDOT as well as city and town projects which require prequalification.”

Company’s contracts under review after drunken driving crash

Investigations into the company’s December 2019 Christmas party are still open. Investigators are focusing on several aspects of the party, including how much now-former owner Ken Horn knew about what was going on at his house.

13-year-old Claire Zisserson was killed in a crash in Pembroke the morning after HSS’ annual Christmas party. Another 13-year-old girl and a 50-year-old woman were critically injured. Now-former HSS employee Gregory Goodsell is facing manslaughter and OUI charges in relation to that crash. Goodsell allegedly told investigators he was coming from the party at now-former HSS owner Ken Horn’s house.

Goddard told Boston 25 News HSS pursued an appeal of MassDOT’s decision to revoke its prequalification status on Jan. 14 – two weeks after it was done.

Timeline of a holiday tragedy in Pembroke

Since that date, “MassDOT has had extensive conversations with Hi-Way Safety Systems, resulting in the company changing its corporate structure, instituting new safety-related processes, and agreeing to pay for and establish a monitorship arrangement involving the firm of Goodwin Procter LLP,” said Goddard.

As part of the monitorship arrangement, Goddard said HSS must make regular reports on its work activities. Goodwin Procter is also allowed to interview employees and examine corporate records.

More arrests, charges surface after Hi-Way Safety Systems holiday party

At the end of the construction season, Goodwin Procter will prepare a report so MassDOT can decide whether HSS should retain its now-reinstated prequalification status.

Goddard explained prequalification certification is only good for one year. On an annual basis, a contractor must submit an application with information regarding the company’s experience, equipment, management, bonding capacity, and more. Based on that information, the application is reviewed and MassDOT determines in which categories of work the company can bid.

Investigators: What did owners know about drug-fueled party and when?

Related stories:

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Timeline of a holiday tragedy in Pembroke

DA investigating death of man found unresponsive at Rockland motel

13-year-old Pembroke crash victim identified, driver charged with manslaughter OUI

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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