County Set To Sue Architect And Engineer Over Adelanto Jail Project Overruns

(April 22)  The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors on April 22 directed  county counsel to file a lawsuit against the two architectural and engineering firms county officials deem responsible for a major portion of the $29  million construction cost overruns on the county’s Adelanto Detention Center.
The construction bill on the project was originally slated at $90,951,937, but after a total of 29 change orders and contract amendments, the price zoomed  to $120,419,790.
Moreover, the total price tag on the project, including engineering, architectural, licensing and inspection costs, has reached $145,451,910, which was $25.45 million more than the $120 million projected to be the project’s overall price including a ten percent cost overrun contingency when it was approved in 2010.
The facility, located on 9438 Commerce Way in Adelanto, was formerly privately owned and run as a 706-inmate capacity institution known as Maranatha Prison. It was sold by its owner, the Moreland Family Trust, to the county in April 2005 for $31.2 million. The expansion added 1,392 new beds to the existing capacity of  the jail.
Prior to the public session of  Tuesday’s board meeting, the supervisors discussed legal issues pertaining to misfeasance on the part of  those responsible for the design of the project with County Counsel Jean-Rene Basle. Upon emerging from those closed door deliberations, Basle disclosed that the board had authorized his office to prepare litigation against Los Angeles-based Hellmuth, Obata  & Kassebaum and Jacobs Engineering Group.
The firm of  Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum, Incorporated, based in Culver City, was originally given a $4,466,000 contract to provide architectural service on the project. Nine amendments later, Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum’s contract has reached $10,438,396, an increase of $5,972,396.
It was stated that both Hellmuth, Obata  & Kassebaum and Jacobs were the parties responsible for design flaws  that resulted in inadequacies with the fire sprinkler and smoke detection and evacuation systems that entailed millions of dollars in additional construction costs, all of which were paid to Bellevue, Washington-based Lydig  Construction, the general contractor on the project.
In December 2010 the county awarded a $90,951,937 contract to Lydig Construction as the low bidder, after making a finding that  the bids received from S.J. Amorosa Construction Co., Inc. of Costa Mesa, California and Flintco of Folsom, California to be non-responsive.
Among the contract amendments that followed were the fifth one approved by the board of supervisors on  February 23, 2013,  in order to accommodate state fire marshal-mandated changes to the smoke control evacuation and automatic fire sprinkler systems, increase in number and size the heating ventilation and air conditioning structural roof supports as well as make further modifications mandated by the state fire marshal and various other agencies, providing Lydig with another $2,472,388 enhancement to the contract.
On May 21, 2013 the county made a sixth amendment to Lydig’s contract, this time relating to labor and materials for the revision of the smoke control systems and fire protection systems, to, in the words of county director of architecture and engineering Carl Alban, “convert the specified fire smoke dampers to smoke dampers as part of the revisions to the smoke control system” in the amount of $5,063,392.
On June 25, 2013, the board of supervisors approved an eighth amendment to the contract in the amount of $6,004,736 to cover labor, materials, labor impacts and acceleration costs related to the revision of the smoke control systems and fire protection systems, a portion of the cost of which was covered with Amendment No. 6.
On August 6, 2013, the board approved an eleventh amendment, providing Lydig with $709,533 for the installation of a third electrical service necessary to increase the available power for providing capacity for future upgrades of the facility; the installation of a fire booster pump to ensure the proper flow and functioning of the fire protection systems; the expedited procurement and delivery of smoke control panels and supervisory panels necessary to achieve the scheduled project completion date; and the relocation of smoke detectors in the dormitory sleeping areas as required by the Board of State and Community Corrections.
On November 11, 2013 the board approved a twelfth amendment to the contract for $415,952 to add twenty-seven dampers to the smoke evacuation ductwork, modify the glazing stops at master control, install fire wrap to ducts and dampers at specified locations and separate the dry zones at the housing units.
On December 17, 2013 the board of supervisors approved a thirteenth amendment in the amount of $304,450  for modifications to the electrical service yard, fire sprinkler system isolation in the support building and constructing foundation and adding position indication valve and monitoring devices for the fire booster pump, relocating  fire/smoke dampers, revising exhaust duct risers in the center core of the housing units and adding a control module to the master control fire shutter.
On March 25, 2014, the board of supervisors approved the fourteenth change order on the project, one for $336,682 to cover the cost of correcting overcurrent issues, improvements to water facility operations, balancing of the smoke control system, perform load bank testing of the generators and to carry out various corrective work.
Prior to a lawsuit being filed, county representatives will meet with corporate officers of both Hellmuth, Obata  & Kassebaum and Jacobs to ascertain if a settlement short of litigation can be forged.

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