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.