More than A Half Century Later, County Finds Contractors Cut Some Infrastructure Corners

County officials recently learned that that six decades, seven decades and eight decades ago, some county public works employees and the county’s contractors and their subcontractors acted irresponsibly and cut corners when they laid certain elements of crucial infrastructure into the ground near downtown San Bernardino in the area where a major portion of the county’s governmental offices and facilities are located.
Over the last four years what is referred to as the County Government Center Campus Improvements Project has been progressing. The County Core Downtown Campus, defined as the area in San Bernardino bounded by Fifth Street, North Sierra Way, Third Street, and North Arrowhead Avenue, is characterized by the collection of buildings and the associated expanse of parking which surrounds them.  These include the five story county administration building which houses the board of supervisors’ meeting chambers, the county’s land use services division, the office for the clerk of the board of supervisors, the office of county counsel, the county chief executive officer’s office, and the offices of the individual members of the board of supervisors; the San Bernardino Courthouse completed in 1928 and its annex added in the 1960s; the building housing the public defender’s office; the building housing the department of public health; and the five story facility at 172 West Third Street housing the grand jury offices, the executive office of the public defender, the office of the public administrator, and some of the executive offices of the county assessor, county clerk and county recorder.
Originally the project had a total budget of $15,620,852, which was to include designs for the first and second phases costing $1,563,247, phase one construction at $1,922,477, project management, counsel, labor compliance permitting inspections and special inspections running to $1,009,442, and second phase construction costs of $3,187,220 together with a contingency for future campus improvements of $7,047,153.
The first phase of the project was completed in the spring of 2017. The second phase of the project was undertaken later that year, with Roadway Engineering & Contracting, Inc. being provided with a $3.18 million contract to complete the work.
According to Terry Thompson, the director of the county’s real estates services division, “The projects associated with the core downtown campus have been labeled the County Government Center Campus Improvements Project. Phase 1A of the project was completed in April 2017. Phase 1B of the project consist[ed] of major road improvements to Mountain View Avenue and Fourth Street and new retaining walls around the existing parking lots to maintain major grade changes. Accessibility walking ramps [were] provided at a new centralized roundabout connecting the campus core with the outlying parking. Phase 1B of the project was completed in May 2019.”
There was a catch, however, Thompson said. “The existing water piping, installed between 1935 and 1954, was encountered at unforeseen shallow depths below the existing roadway at the project site during demolition,” according to Thompson. “The need to replace the water piping, as stated, was an unforeseen event and not included in the original project bid documents. An amendment to the construction contract is recommended as a result of this unforeseen discovery and resulting added scope of work to replace the existing piping.”
Thompson said Roadway Engineering & Contracting dealt with the issue and was not remunerated for that extra work ahead of time. He called upon the board of supervisors to “approve Amendment No. 1 to Contract No. 17-699 with Roadway Engineering & Contracting, Inc. in the amount of $572,591, increasing the contract amount from $3,187,220 to $3,759,811, and extending the construction completion date to May 31, 2019 for the unforeseen replacement of water piping for the County Government Center Campus Improvement Project – Phase 1B located at 385 North Arrowhead Avenue in San Bernardino.  Amendment No. 1 will compensate Roadway Engineering & Contracting, Inc. for additional work and time to replace water piping below the planned street improvements.”
According to Thompson, the contract time with Roadway ended up being extended from 240 calendar days to 585 calendar days. Work did not actually take place on 305 non-compensable calendar days during the extended 585-day period, according to Thompson, but the extra work did entail Roadway being on site 40 compensable calendar days that were not earlier anticipated.
“The increased contract time of 345 calendar days is the agreed upon period of time allotted to Roadway to achieve completion of the entire scope of work,” Thompson told the board of supervisors in a report dated October 22, 2019. “Extensions of the contract time are permitted by section 3.1 of the contract, subject to written approval of the county. At all times the contract as a whole remains in full force and effect until all issues relating to the contract have been resolved.”
The additional payment of $572,591 was equal to 18 percent of the original contract, Thompson said, and paid for the removal and disposal of old pipe and installation of new water pipe. The total amount of the revised contract was $3,759,811.


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