Jonathan Huggett, the City of Victoria’s project manager for the Johnson Street bridge replacement, isn’t holding his breath that the latest deadline will be met by the contractor.
After advising city council that PCL has again pushed back the completion date for the bridge by three and a half months to March 31, 2018, he admitted there are no guarantees on that promise.
“Will PCL hit that deadline? I’m not by any means certain about it. I’ve lived through several dates now that PCL has failed to achieve,” he said.
“The delays are the fault of PCL. They are required to deliver the project to the required specifications and on time, so as far as we are concerned, this is PCL’s responsibility.”
The latest problems occurred in China, where the steel for the project was purchased and where the bridge components are being fabricated. Huggett explained that, during a horizontal fit-up of the pieces, it took considerably longer than anticipated to machine the components to ensure they matched properly.
When Victoria’s inspectors finally signed off on the pieces, it was time for a vertical fit-up, in which the process was repeated in a configuration that matched the way the bridge would look once installed. At that time the tolerances were once again found to be off.
By the time PCL were able to correct those problems, it was well into March.
Other issues came about when corrosion problems, causing pitting, were identified in steel being used in the construction. ZTSS, the Chinese company contracted to produce and fabricate the steel worked to address those problems as well.
“The actual responsibility to deal with ZTSS clearly lies with PCL. They selected ZTSS for the work and resolving these issues falls squarely on PCL’s shoulders. We will not accept that bridge for shipment until we are satisfied with it,” said Huggett.
Councillors voiced frustration over the continued delays.
Coun. Marianne Alto questioned the reliability of promises to complete the project in a specified time frame.
Coun. Ben Isitt added that the delays further reinforce the need for council to take a second look at assigning capital projects to city engineers, instead of contracting the work out.
“The fact is, our city manager had identified gaps and to protect the interests of the taxpayers, they almost have to take this micro-management approach. That shows the contracted model has failed.”
The cost of the bridge replacement is now pegged at $105 million. Huggett noted the original contract price to PCL was $62.8 million, but that didn’t include $34 million paid to MMM Group, the engineering firm contracted as part of the project.
The current budget for the project also does not include the installation of fenders for piers, and other steel parts required. Huggett said he was not going to rush the estimates for that portion of the project, although he expects to appear before council in the next month or two to present cost estimates for that work.