The Cleveland City Council delayed its vote Monday on seven change orders to the contract for Local Interstate Connector–South until Bradley County commissioners have a chance to review the increase in cost.
Because of the Council’s actions, city staff will have to request another 14-day extension from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation before the agency enforces a Notice of Violation for improperly installed erosion control devices.
The city was issued a Notice of Violation on July 10. At the request of the city, an extension was granted. The new compliance date was set at Aug. 16, according to a letter from TDEC.
The change orders total $542,886. The original contract was $2.510 million. The revised contract amount is $3.063 million.
Councilman Bill Estes suggested tabling the issue until after Bradley County commissioners review the change orders.
Bradley County allocated funds to build LIC-North and LIC-South. The city will ask the county to shift money from the north project to cover the cost overruns on the road to the industrial park. City staff reported the northern leg can be built with the remaining money for that project.
“I understand the decision was made when there was money in the budget. I understand it was a very wet spring. I understand the cost overruns came after the decision was made,” Estes said. “I’m glad I at least have the support of Richard (Banks) on this to push this to the County Commission. I really think you’ve done right by the city, but it really needs to be their body.”
The bulk of a 40-minute discussion centered around $440,000 for reducing the grade of the industrial road from 8 percent to 6 percent in April.
At-Large Councilman Richard Banks said, “We’re talking about spending a half-million for cutting the grade, but we haven’t voted on this. Why wasn’t this brought before the Council since it is 20 percent of the contract?”
Cleveland City Manager Janice Casteel said Assistant City Manager Melinda Carroll updated the Council in March about the project. “At that time, we didn’t know the total cost of changing the grade.”
Casteel said the road was built to an 8 percent grade as designed. Though a truck can climb the grade, it was decided to lower the grade during construction until after the road was built.
Jobe said the cost of building it with a 6 percent grade was $8 million, which exceeded the budget of $6 million.
“Six percent is what we wanted to do all along, but when we got the bids, we realized there was still a chance we could still do the 6 percent,” Jobe said.
“Who decided to cut it from an 8 percent to 6 percent grade and gave Steve Williams Construction the go-ahead?” Banks asked.
“That would have been us,” Casteel replied.
She said the decision was made after discussions with Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce Vice President for Economic Development Doug Berry, contractor Steve Williams, and Development and Engineering Director Jonathan Jobe.
“It was only discussed and at that time we had enough funding to cover the grade change within our original $4 million for the south side. However, with the other unforeseen circumstances, as we got to that point, it exceeded the budget,” Carroll said. “We were within budget at the time Janice and I agreed to that.”
Jobe said at one point in the discussion that industry calculates the difference in fuel costs between climbing a 6 percent and 8 percent grade.
“They’ll put a cost to that,” Jobe said.
Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Gary Farlow said the lower grade makes more sense if possible.
“My understanding from Doug was that if it could be done within the budget you have, it would be a good idea. Beyond that, the Industrial Development Board had no other role in the decision,” Farlow said.
Banks asked how one person could authorize that expenditure without going through the Council. “It’s going to come up when the county says we’re not paying for that,” Banks said. “That’s why we need to send it up the street and let them approve it before we act on it.”
“At the time that was signed, we hadn’t gone over our contract amount,” Jobe said.
“The Council hadn’t approved it, but we thought we were within budget and we could proceed with this change in the grade because we thought we would have funds available until all the rains came and the erosion controls fell apart,” he added. “Then the microscope came down on the project and the County Commission said you will not have mud in the creek. We knew we couldn’t have mud in the creek, but it doubled the erosion control (cost).”
The change orders include:
- Two time extensions requested by the contractor;
- Use of temporary stream crossings that were not set up in original contract, $4,400;
- Requested addition of erosion items by TDEC (i.e. Georidges, Straw Wattles, Floc logs, and Jute Mesh Fabric), $27,116;
- City of Cleveland requested bituminous material be changed from PG64-22 to PG70-22; $37,411;
- Grade change from 8 percent to 6 percent, and other items currently in contract would be increased or decreased as a result of this change order. Some items were removed from original contract, $440,000.
- A French drain and the rock excavation encountered when installing the French drain, and additional excavated material, $64,892.
Casteel said project delays cost $1,100 each day for the environmental inspector who is on the site every day there is construction activity and at least two days a week when there is no work.
“The erosion control has to be put in place and you have to finish the project before you can do your final erosion control,” Casteel said.
“Are you saying there is a fellow out there every day that is costing us $1,100 a day?” Banks asked.
“Only when they are working,” Casteel said.
Jobe explained that TDEC requires someone on-site to check erosion control at least twice a week.
“In the last two months, it has probably been just two days a week,” he said.
The inspector does not monitor the construction work, but is responsible for checking erosion control devices for proper installation and maintenance.
Jobe explained that correcting the erosion control devices on each shoulder of the road going down the grade are already down to rock.
“The rock excavation we were doing, the price was kind of high because the excavation we were doing, there wasn’t a lot of it at the time, but there is going to be a lot of rock excavation to get those ditches lower,” Jobe said.
Jobe explained they originally installed turf reinforced matting, but grass won’t grow on solid rock. Now TDEC requires armored-lined ditches. He thinks TDEC will allow matting where there is dirt and armor where there is rock.
Casteel said there was no way the contractor, the city nor the contractor knew the change order would be required until the start of digging and once rock is hit.