Cobb officials, contractor at odds over $17 million wastewater tunnel
by Nikki Wiley
May 06, 2014 04:00 AM | 3946 views | 3 3 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — County officials are at odds with a contractor they say caused up to $12 million in damages to a tunnel and pump station. The county’s water department director says Cobb could end up in a court battle over the problem.

California-based Shea-Traylor Joint Venture was awarded a $17 million contract by the Cobb Board of Commissioners in March 2008 to construct a tunnel and pump station in south Cobb handling treated wastewater on its way to the Chattahoochee River.

The project was set to be finished in July of this year, but last August, after the tunnel was completed and during the final days of testing the pump station, a dry well flooded, causing extensive damage.

About 120 feet of treated wastewater sat in the pump station, flooding mechanical and electrical equipment. The flooding was caused by a broken pipe, but what exactly caused the pipe to fail is unknown.

“It was ugly,” said Steve McCullers, the county’s water department director.

Completion of the project has been extended to this December.

“It took them close to a month to get the water out and to get things dried out to where we could look at them,” McCullers said.

Commissioners approved paying the contractor an additional $637,315 to extend the contract through December.

McCullers said the county hopes to recoup that cost through a fee it plans to charge Shea-Traylor for extending the work.

County officials argue damages incurred during the station flooding are the responsibility of Shea-Traylor, not the county.

“It’s a lot of money we’re talking about here,” McCullers said.

The contractor wanted to repair mechanical equipment damaged by the floodwaters, but McCullers said the county maintains it wrote a $17 million check for a new pump station — not one damaged and repaired.

“We took the position that we didn’t pay for motors that had been flooded and rebuilt,” McCullers said. “We paid for new motors.”

Shea-Traylor has appealed the project manager’s decision prohibiting the repair and reuse of the equipment to the water department, although McCullers said he plans to uphold the decision.

The contractor could easily appeal the issue and take it to court, he said.

“We were pretty adamant that we wanted to make sure (we get)a product of the quality we paid for,” McCullers said.

Meantime, McCullers said Shea-Traylor agreed to build the tunnel and pump station with new equipment, but continues to argue against the county’s decision.

“We’re going to end up with what we’re contracted for, so we’re happy with that respect,” McCullers said.

Shea-Traylor could not be reached by press time.

County Chairman Tim Lee said in a prepared statement the contractor is moving forward with installing new equipment and he expects the tunnel to be completed by the end of the year and within budget.

“We are working towards mediation on the financial impact of the flooding and because this could end up in court, I cannot elaborate on the details,” Lee said.

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Tony Cain
May 06, 2014
If you go to a car dealer and you pick out a new car and you agree what the price will be and then the dealer brings in a wrecked car that is the same as the one you bought and the wrecked car is repaired in the dealer's repair shop and he tries to make you take the repaired car, would you?

Of course, new equipment for the tunnel depends on wording in the contract. Let's hope the contract was properly worded since it is our tax money that is paying for the work and equipment.

Also, was the contractor required to have insurance to cover such problems? Should have been.
SC Engineer
May 06, 2014
Anonymous is way off base with this assumption. This is not a "rant about the bureacrats" situation. This decision is one bound by contractual obligations of the contractor.

Steve McCullers is right to want a new pump station since the project had not been formally turned over to the County.

Standard specifications and contract documents are written requiring the Contractor to provide the new equipment as specified.

The only out would be if it was proven that the County was at fault for causing the flooding. Unless it is proven, the Contractor is typically required to provide "new...not".

May 06, 2014
--RE: The contractor wanted to repair mechanical equipment damaged by the floodwaters, but McCullers said the county maintains it wrote a $17 million check for a new pump station — not one damaged and repaired.--

This is the kind of thinking you get out of mindless government bureaucrats who are in charge of anything. "We want new, not repaired".

Dear mindless government bureaucrats, this isn't a friggin' mercedes beinz we are talking about. It's major mechanical equipment that can be/is designed to be repaired/rebuilt for long term service/operation.

Get a clue, bureacrats. Quit screwing around with the contractor and quit wasting the time we pay you for getting things done.

(Why am I thinking this is an effort of the mindless bureacrats to justify there continued existence on county payrolls).
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