County bridge project 'under the gun'

PLYMOUTH — Delays in the 13th Road bridge project have begun to draw fire from county officials as the project officially passed its first extended completion deadline Monday.
Jeff Million of DLZ, the supervising engineer for the county on the troubled project, told the Marshall County Commissioners the contractor, Isom Construction, was aware that they were “…under the gun,” drawing the comment from President of the Commissioners Kevin Overmyer that “…They were under the gun the day they moved in here and it’s all because of things they’ve done.”
Commissioner Jack Roose added that “They would have been on target if they had gotten (work crews) in last fall and done what they could do.”
The contractor is liable to penalties of $5,000 per calendar day for every day past the completion deadline. Million presented a change order to the Commissioners Monday to allow five extra days, pushing the deadline to yesterday (Monday). Isom is seeking 87 additional days leeway, sighting bad weather and bad luck — and also claiming that the work was set back by utilities relocation in the fall.
Million said he and Indiana Department of Transportation officials — who will make the final determination on any deadline extensions — had determined the contractor might actually be entitled to 23 additional days past the five already granted.
He said that 16 days in April, May and June could be considered lost due to bad weather, and seven days in March could also be considered as flood days when the waters of the Yellow River were too high for crews to work.
The contractor could be awarded further days due to weather between now and the completion of the project.
The county contends that the contract was let out 10 months ago and the contractor wasted vital days in the fall last year that could have been used to complete the project, instead choosing to wait until spring time.
If awarded all 23 days, Million says the company may be entitled to, the completion deadline would be pushed back to Aug. 10.
The Commissioners voted to allow the change order for five extra days with Overmyer voting against the measure. In making the motion, Roose said that any further change orders for time extension would not be looked at very favorably by the board.
In other bridge news:
• The Pierce Street bridge project continues to move steadily forward. Marshall County Highway Superintendent Neal Haeck told the Commissioners that the first construction meeting on the project would take place Wednesday, at which time information would be shared on a timetable for the project.
Haeck said that construction could begin anytime after Wednesday’s meeting and the deadline for completion of the rebuilding of the bridge is May 23 of 2012.
• The Hickory Road bridge rebuild will have to be put on hold for the time being. Haeck reported to the Commissioners that an original application for federal funding on the project was rejected.
Haeck said this round of funding had $1.5 million in federal funds available and more than $7 million worth of applications for those funds.
He said he will continue to seek funding for the bridge replacement which will be the county’s next bridge project.