City council approves change order for west Blaine sewer line work

Published on Wed, Mar 28, 2012 by Jeremy Schwartz

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Unstable soil beneath a Marine Drive manhole will cost the city of Blaine approximately $105,000 in extra construction charges as part of a larger wastewater conveyance project.

The $105,005 change order, the sixth attached to the $1.5 million contract with Bellingham-based Boss Construction, will pay for the extra man-hours and materials that were necessary to stabilize the soil near a manhole on the west end of Marine Drive. The west Blaine conveyance project will connect a wastewater line from the Semiahmoo treatment plant to the city’s main water treatment facility at the end of Marine Drive.

Soil condition in the Marine Drive area has proven very difficult to anticipate and unexpectedly gave way while work was being completed, Blaine Public Works director Ravyn Whitewolf said at the March 26 city council meeting. The ground in the area is mostly a combination of natural soil and fill added when portions of the marina were constructed, she explained.

“What we have out there is some very unstable soil,” she said.

This phase of the conveyance project has encountered other delays recently, including a $199,674 change order that paid for a broken sewer pipe and an extra $42,000 in construction management costs. Whitewolf said this phase of the project started last June, with a $1.5 million Boss Construction bid that was 18 percent lower than the city engineer’s estimate of $1.8 million. The change order costs have increased Boss’s contract with the city to about $1.7 million.

The change order was submitted in early February, and Whitewolf said public works staff and contracted construction managers have been reviewing the need for additional costs since then. Whitewolf said she does not expect any other major changes to the project, which is expected to wrap up in May.

“We have done what we feel is the most complex portion of the project,” Whitewolf said.

Blaine City Council unanimously approved the change order with little discussion. Council members said they were impressed with the presentation Whitewolf made explaining the need for the change order.

“You have a gift of making me feel good about spending more money,” Blaine City Council member Clark Cotner said.

In the future, Whitewolf said she wants to initiate a standard policy for evaluating change orders, which the city of Blaine does not have. She said she was involved in creating such a policy during her time with the city of Bellingham.

“Change orders are something that I have a lot of experience with,” Whitewolf said.