Maryland highway officials halted a contractor’s work on the final piece of the Intercounty Connector’s construction for one day last week after the contractor improperly cut down about two dozen trees, officials said.

As a result, the state will deduct $15,000 from payments to the contractor, according to Rob Shreeve, deputy director of the Maryland State Highway Administration’s ICC construction project. The contractor also will not be eligible for a $30,000 quarterly bonus for soil preservation efforts, Shreeve said.

On Feb. 18, the contractor — working in an area near the southbound lanes of Interstate 95 and north of Route 198 — cut more trees than had been approved by the Department of the Environment, Shreeve said. The state had planned for the trees to be cleared in about two months as part of construction of a stormwater facility, he said, but they were to be cleared in phases to reduce sediment runoff into nearby streams.

The tree-clearing also occurred four days before state highway officials were scheduled to brief nearby residents about the work, Shreeve said.

“We had promised the West Laurel community that we would keep them apprised,” Shreeve said.

Stuart Knazik said the trees, some of which he estimated to be 80 to 100 years old, once provided a visual buffer between his home and I-95, which he now sees. He estimated that about 40 trees were cut.

“When I saw the trees coming down, it was out of nowhere,” Knazik said.

The state shut down construction on Feb. 19 after the improper clearing was discovered the previous afternoon, Shreeve said.

The contractor, ICC Constructors, is a joint venture that includes Shirley Contracting Co., Clark Construction Group, Facchina Construction Co. and Trumbull Corp. The group is building the last section of the ICC between I-95 and U.S. 1, as well as lanes to carry I-95 traffic to the ICC. Work on the $90 million contract is scheduled to be finished this fall, Shreeve said

ICC Constructors said in a statement that the error occurred “due to a miscommunication” and that the supervisor involved has been “removed.”