Walla Walla city officials seek fines for delays in Palouse Street bridge project

While the bridge opened 65 days late, the city is basing its request on only seven days.

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WALLA WALLA - City officials will ask the Washington State Department of Transportation to fine Apollo Inc. for delays on the Palouse Street Bridge Project, but those fines will be based on only seven days, rather than the 65 days the project was late.

Under its contract, Apollo, Inc. was liable up to $1,600 for every day it missed its bridge opening deadline of Dec. 18. Had the city based its fine on all 65 days, the amount could have been as high as $100,000. Instead, the seven days of fines will amount to $11,273.

"Wow. That is not much," said Spencer Sievers, owner of El Corazon Winery, one of only two retail business on Palouse that considered themselves impacted by the delays.

"I would say it (the delays) cost us at least that much, and that is only speaking for my one business," Sievers said.

Although the project came in 65 days behind schedule, City Civil Engineer Monte Puymon reported that 58 of those days resulted from design changes and work attributed mostly to the city.

According to Puymon's report, the 58 days that were excluded included 10 days of delays attributed to the planting of nine trees, which included landscaping and irrigation improvements; another 10 days to correct a pipe-joint design error; five days to order a geotexticle fabric to allow work during rainy months; five days to replace a deteriorating and poorly laid sewer line; and seven more days for frontage improvements, rebar bending and replacement of a water service meter.

The remaining 19 of the 58 days were attributed to a request made by the city asking Apollo, Inc. to hold off on asphalt work to maintain access to businesses from sidewalks.

In making his decision, City Manager Nabiel Shawa also asked city engineers to look at Apollo, Inc.'s construction record. According to that review, Apollo, Inc. had three completed projects since 2007; none showed any performance issue. They included a $525,908 waste water treatment plant project, an $8,620 sewer project and a $18,961 Safe Route To Schools project in the areas of Edison and Pioneer schools.

"I've gotten both messages. Some say throw the book at them. And others are coming forward and saying Apollo has been a good contractor for the city. Yes. A subcontractor messed up, but we should be considerate," Shawa said.

According to Puymon's report, Apollo, Inc. suffered delays to the project when a bridge piling subcontractor failed to finish a project and walked off the job on Nov. 21, 2009. A replacement contractor didn't start the project until Dec. 22, Puymon wrote.

Because the project was paid primarily through federal funds, the fine won't automatically go to the city. But the city is requesting to have $10,677 of the fines returned to it to cover various staff and consultant expenses.

Details of Apollo Liquidated Damages

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