The Sunwood/Armstrong road improvement project has run into a few snags and to correct some problems, the Ramsey City Council is having to pay out more.
The council voted 4-1 Oct. 23 to approve a change order of $22,646 to correct drainage issues, correct the water supply to an existing irrigation service that was impacted by the re-alignment of Sunwood Drive, change the signs from “road closed” to “road work” and blank out the “follow detour” message.
The council also approved up to an additional $15,000 for Landform to continue its consulting work on the project.
The original drainage plan called for a ditch on the west side of the project to handle drainage, but during construction a drainfield was encountered on the Diversified Paving site, located at 8019 146th Ave., and several large utility cabinets within a private easement at the northwest corner of 146th Avenue, that prevented the installation of the ditch, said Shane Nelson, interim city engineer.
An alternate plan had to be made, he said.
There was also a drainage problem at 14700 Armstrong Blvd. (Billmark Electric).
“The grade at the intersection of Armstrong Boulevard and 147th Avenue was raised approximately eight feet, and there is currently a 4:1 slope from the edge of the road to the existing ground that surrounds the parking lot for Billmark Electric,” Nelson said.
“Whatever drainage system was existing before construction was covered with fill to provide the slope. The drain tile was proposed as a solution to this drainage problem by the design engineer.”
The change order also pays for the moving and replacing an existing irrigation box to a new location and removing 24-inch pipes and storm sewer stubs from a retail location where they were no longer needed as a result of the realignment of Sunwood Drive.
It had been planned to connect the two-inch main irrigation lines to the east end of the project, but city staff decided that would not work because the water supply was coming from Ramsey Boulevard and the pressure was not adequate, Nelson said.
Connecting the irrigation system to the west end of Sunwood Drive with a new four-inch water supply was required, he said.
While the city planned on re-using the old irrigation box, it is too damaged and needs to be replaced, Nelson said.
Although it was originally estimated by the previous city engineer that Landform’s construction administration services work on the Sunwood/Armstrong project would cost an estimated $15,000, the amount of time Darren Lazan’s group has spent on the project exceeded the amount.
He responds to requests made by city staff and by WSB and that means he does not control the scope of the work needed, said Lazan.
According to the contract, Landform does the project engineering for revisions to the design during construction, shop drawing reviews, plan revisions and contract administration as well as meetings with WSB, which is responsible for the construction services for the Sunwood/Armstrong project, and city staff.
Landform also worked on the grading plan for the Sunwood retail area and the new Coborn’s entrance has required more time than planned.
The additional amount would keep Landform on the project until it is completed sometime in the spring, said City Administrator Kurt Ulrich.
Landform currently has about $20,000 in expenses, $5,000 over the amount approved for the project, he said.
Whose responsibility is it to manage the Landform contract and see that it does not go over the approved amount, said Councilmember Sarah Strommen.
“I don’t want this to come back again. Are there ways Landform can use (its) time more efficiently,” she said.
This will double the cost of the Landform contract. It is a significant difference, Strommen said.
It is the contractor’s responsibility to bring it to the city’s attention, Ulrich said.
The issue was not brought to the council when it approached the limit because Landform bills three weeks in arrears, said Lazan.
The previous engineer had set the WSB and city inspections at $70,000 each, but only allowed $15,000 for Landform, he said.
While Councilmember Jason Tossey said Landform did not do anything wrong, it is about $5,000 over what the council said.
“Clearly we are inefficient,” he said.
There is no accountability, Tossey said.
This is a product of a poor decision the council made to rely on city staff rather than hiring professionals, said Mayor Bob Ramsey.
“It would be ludicrous not to approve this. If we don’t, it will stop the whole project,” he said.
Strommen said she did not want to stop the project, but it is the timeliness of getting the request.
“This does not feel right,” she said.
She does not want the council to set a precedent that says that contractors can come back to the city when they go over the contract, Strommen said.
The council voted 4-1 to approve the new amount. Strommen voted no and Councilmember Jeff Wise abstained.
Tammy Sakry is at [email protected]