Plant project sees $60,000 change

By David Hotle, The JOURNAL


?We did not see this coming.?

That was the statement Mayor Sandra Johnson made to the Washington City Council as discussions began on a $60,000 snafu to the water treatment plant improvement project. During the council?s regular meeting Tuesday it was learned that the electric transformer at the plant is located closer to the entrance of the building than safety spec allow and needed to be moved to a different location than was planned. The problem was discovered when Alliant Energy did a recent review of the project. The council approved the change in the plans during the meeting.

?Typically these major capital projects are done with a work change allowance so there is not formal change orders until the end and we can proceed and make those little adjustments that you have in a project,? Washington City Administrator Brent Hinson said. ?In this case this is a much bigger change, both in terms of dollars and impact, so we brought this to the council to look at separately.?

He said the transformer will be relocated from where it is specified in the plans to the minimum distance required and still be out of the way of the facility?s planned traffic flow, which is right outside the south door. In the council?s packet, he said ?there really is no economical solution to the problem.?

Hinson said the cable between the transformer and the building costs about $600 per foot, which is why the transformer is located as close to the building as possible. The new location will require an additional 58 feet of cable.

Mayor Sandra Johnson said she is surprised that the electrical engineer hadn?t caught the issue, given that the standards for the setup is uniform.

?Now could the engineering firm not be aware of this?? Council member Kathy Salazar asked.

Hinson commented if the issue had been caught earlier, the transformer may have been able to be relocated to a position where it would have cost less. He said it probably wouldn?t have been much less. He said if it had been caught earlier it would still have had to be located in the position it is going to be located, but the cost would have been built into the project cost.

?It is never good to have these things done by change order,? he said. ?There is probably a little inflated cost just because of the time and effort in putting that together, but the overall expense would be the same.?

Hinson said there is a $160,000 change allowance built into the budget of the project. He said the city still is within the budget for changes, but there couldn?t be any more major changes without adding cost to the project.

The council agreed to approve the change, also saying that the engineering firm should be informed the city is not happy with the issue.