County may fine La Cañada contractor after Tuesday

2014-06-30T00:00:00Z 2014-07-01T09:26:06Z County may fine La Cañada contractor after TuesdayBy Jamar Younger Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Pima County is threatening to fine the construction company in charge of widening North La Cañada Drive between West Ina and River roads.

The county will start fining Select Development & Construction $2,500 per day after Tuesday, which was supposed to be the deadline for completion of the road project and the end of the county’s contract with the construction company, according to county documents.

The construction company could still receive an extension to complete the project, but county officials said Friday nothing has been approved so far.

Select has also filed a $3.2 million contract claim with the county, saying the project was hindered because the engineering firm hired by the county, Psomas, did not respond promptly when issues arose on the project, according to county documents.

County officials said they were satisfied with Psomas’ work on the project, but reduced the number of firm’s inspectors working on the project because the company was beginning to approach the $3 million contract limit allotted for its work, said Ana Olivares, deputy director of the Pima County Department of Transportation.

There were four engineering consulting companies, including Psomas, under contract for the project, Olivares said.

Crews have been working on La Cañada since May 2012, but the project has encountered numerous delays, mostly due to the discovery of unexpected utility lines, which led to the change-orders and project extensions, according to county officials and the construction company.

The county has already approved nine change-orders requested by Select, which has extended the project by 49 days, she said.

The project was initially supposed to be completed in April.

The county has paid an additional $242,000 as a result of the extensions, Olivares said. The total project cost was $18.7 million.

Select didn’t comment on its claim, but issued a statement saying “there are currently issues pending resolution that are of no fault to Select.”

“The La Cañada road project has experienced numerous delays due to conditions that could not be known ahead of time or planned for, including, but not limited to, unknown existing utilities in direct conflict with new construction,” Select’s statement says. “These delays are incidental to this type of construction, especially considering the size and scope of the project.”

Olivares confirmed there were delays and problems with existing utilities, which forced crews to wait while the utility companies either removed or relocated lines or equipment.

“Most of the delays are because of those kind of things,” she said. “Any relocation design you have to do in the middle of a project just extends it tremendously.”

Bad weather has also contributed to some of the delays, she said.

Although the county and Select representatives agree the delays are not uncommon for large-scale construction projects, county officials have still expressed disappointment with the management of the project.

In a response letter to a local business owner, County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry said Select is the “same contractor we have had significant problems with on other projects, including La Cañada.”

“The contractor has not performed timely on most of their contracts with the county,” Huckelberry wrote. “Unfortunately, we are bound by state law to accept the lowest responsible bidder.”

Contact reporter Jamar Younger at jyounger@azstarnet.com or 573-4242. On Twitter @JamarYounger

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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