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09/20/00 - Basin authority approves $.4 million in unexpected costs

 Basin authority approves $.4 million in
unexpected costs for reservoir project
 

By Mark Beardsley                                                               Wednesday, September 20, 2000

ATHENS -- Don't use the phrase "dirt cheap" around members of the Upper Oconee Basin Water Authority. 
That group found out Friday that certain soil and rock not being where they were expected could increase the cost of building the dam for the Bear Creek Reservoir by up to $.4 million.
In an emergency called meeting, members of the four-county coalition building the dam, reservoir and treatment plant approved above-contract spending for hauling dirt for the core and shell of the earthen dam at an amount that could reach $.3 million, and the expenditure of $16,000 for extra concrete for the spillway.
While both matters are over and above the $.88 million contract for construction of the dam, the entire $3 million project is still within the budget, according to Wendell Dawson, chairman of the Upper Oconee Basin Water Authority. "What we've funded today will probably be funded without any problems from any of the counties," Dawson stated.
"The decision made today does not prolong the project and does not run it over the budget," agreed Eddie Elder, chairman of the Barrow County Board of Commissioners. The board made two decisions Friday to keep the project moving toward its July 2001 completion date.
The first was to authorize a change order in the dam contract to allow Specialized Services Inc. to haul in 310,000 cubic yards of soil suitable for the core and shell. The company's bid for building the dam was based on the anticipation that sufficient material would be found on the site or at an adjacent point nearby, but the amount of quality fill material did not live up to expectations. Soil has to meet certain criteria for use in the crucial core of the dam, and lesser but still stringent criteria for use in the shell.
The authority authorized Dawson to issue the change order, which is based on the unit cost of dirt to be moved in the contract. The contractor's original proposal was to do the work at a higher cost, up to $.3 million total, since the dirt is further from the dam site. If SSI rejects that price, Dawson is authorized to issue an order that the work be completed. Under that order, the authority would pay the lower unit price and later negotiate any differences with the company. SSI still has 200,000 cubic yards of dirt to excavate in the spillway area, and there is a chance that some of it may be suitable for the shell or core, which would reduce the cost of the change order. The second change was necessary because there was not as much rock at the spillway site as had been anticipated, requiring an additional 278.5 cubic yards of concrete.
"Are there any other problems coming down the pike with the spillway?" asked Jackson County Commissioner Pat Bell.
The bulk of the called meeting was spent explaining the problem and the alternatives, but Dawson indicated that the authority will discuss the blame – and legal options – at a later time. Estimates of suitable soil for the dam and rock for the spillway were made after engineering firms did core samples, and officials pointed out that the firms who bid on the projects apparently did not do further sampling to verify that information when submitting bids.


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