General Contractors

June 14, 2018

Design errors, delays add $408M to construction costs for Fort Bliss replacement hospital

Source: https://www.beckershospitalreview.com, June 13, 2018
By: Alia Paavola

A federal audit found the construction of El Paso, Texas-based William Beaumont Army Medical Center’s replacement facility was plagued with hundreds of design errors, time delays and contract changes, which put the project three years behind schedule and added $408 million in costs, according to the El Paso Times.

The original construction cost for the medical complex at the Fort Bliss army post in El Paso was $812.8 million. Those costs included $648.9 million for the six-building hospital complex as well as additional contract costs, according to a 127-page report released by the inspector general of  the U.S. Defense Department.

In May 2017, the U.S. Defense Health Agency, one of the parties overseeing hospital construction, notified Congress that the budget for the new complex had increased to more than $1.2 billion.…

May 22, 2018

City sues construction contractor Caspian, engineering firm over police headquarters

Source: https://ca.news.yahoo.com, May 16, 2018

The City of Winnipeg is suing the construction and engineering firms that built the city’s troubled police headquarters, alleging myriad mistakes in constructing the downtown project.

The city’s statement of claim was filed Wednesday at Manitoba’s Court of Queen’s Bench.

The city alleges it became aware of a number of defects and deficiencies once the $214-million project was complete.

The statement alleges a deteriorated structural slab and dislodged concrete is compromising the building’s structural integrity. Water leakage, a busted concrete floor, drainage issues, inadequate air flow, insufficient asbestos abatement, a lack of temperature control and no catwalk on the fifth floor are among the dozens of shortcomings the city says exists in the facility, built within the shell of a former Canada Post warehouse on Graham Avenue in downtown Winnipeg.

Winnipeg chief administrative officer Doug McNeil estimated the cost of addressing all issues would be “north of $10 million.”…

May 21, 2018

VHA Review of Selected Construction Projects at Oklahoma City VA Health Care System

Source: https://www.oversight.gov, March 22, 2018

The VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) reviewed potential mismanagement in the planning and oversight of two construction projects—a new Surgical Intensive Care Unit (SICU) and an expanded Operating Room (OR) Suite—at the Oklahoma City VA Health Care System (OKCVAHCS). The projects were scheduled for completion in February 2015 and September 2016, respectively, for a combined cost of about $18 million. The OIG concluded Veterans Integrated Service Network 16 and OKCVAHCS officials mismanaged both projects, which are behind schedule. As of January 2018, the SICU project was about 60–65 percent complete; however, the construction contractor had been paid about 93 percent of the construction portion of the project’s funds. Inadequate oversight of the project by OKCVAHCS officials contributed to widespread workmanship deficiencies. The final cost and completion date of the SICU project are unknown and at least partially dependent on the outcome of legal action initiated by the construction contractor in March 2017. The decision by OKCVAHCS officials to start the OR project prematurely resulted in conflicts between contractors working on the projects simultaneously in overlapping space. As a result, the OR project was suspended pending completion of the SICU project. Costs associated with the OR project continue to accumulate because of the delay. In May 2017, an Administrative Investigative Board convened by VA reported that an Anti-deficiency Act violation occurred because OKCVAHCS staff had removed an elevator from the SICU project and added it into the design of the OR project. This change was intended to keep the SICU project classified as “minor construction,” which is a construction project that costs under $10 million. The OIG recommended sealing SICU construction areas, implementing procedures to strengthen oversight of construction projects and recommendations by technical experts, and considering administrative action for key responsible officials.…

May 21, 2018

OKC VA project $10.8 million over budget, years behind schedule

Source: https://m.newsok.com, March 23, 2018
By: Justin Wingerter

Two construction projects at the Oklahoma City VA Medical Center are $10.8 million overbudget, several years behind schedule and were once in violation of federal law due to engineering mismanagement and bitter disagreements between contractors, according to a federal report released Friday.

The VA inspector general report — the second in recent months to uncover problems at the hospital — reviewed construction of a new surgical intensive care unit, or SICU, and expansion of an operating room. The projects were conceived a dozen years ago but remain incomplete and indefinitely stalled.

Poor workmanship has wasted money, greatly delayed the projects and created safety concerns, according to the report. Unfinished construction on the hospital’s roof has been exposed to the elements and will have to be redone. Other problems “call into question the structural integrity of portions of the eighth floor.”…

May 11, 2018

Sinking Millennium Tower could cost up to $500M to fix

Source: https://www.constructiondive.com, April 20, 2018
By: Kim Slowey

Dive Brief:

  • Engineers tasked with finding a way to stabilize the sinking Millennium Tower in San Francisco have suggested a fix that could cost between $250 million and $500 million dollars, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The residential skyscraper cost $350 million to construct in 2008.
  • Crews would drive 137 to 150 13-5/8″ steel and concrete “micro piles,” anchoring the west side of the building to the bedrock below. Engineers would allow the east side of the building to continue to sink until the tower straightens itself out. At that point, after two to five years, workers would install an equal number of piles on the east side, hopefully preventing the building from sinking farther. The building currently sits on 950 piles driven 60 to 90 feet into clay and mud.
  • Already some residents have expressed concern about the possible effects such a process could have on the structure’s concrete pad and the building itself, which has already been stressed from sinking 17 inches and tilting 14 inches to the west and another six to the north. Crews will soon start soil testing at the Millennium, but residents, developer Millennium Partners, insurance companies and others are still trying to come to an agreement as to who will pay for the work.
May 11, 2018

Report: Lax oversight of VA project caused $17.7M overrun, construction collapse

Source: https://www.constructiondive.com, April 2, 2018
By: Kim Slowey

Dive Brief:

  • The Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs issued a report that found both a contractor and VA hospital officials demonstrated “shoddy planning” and poor oversight of an $8.7 million generator project that is $17.5 million over budget, according to The Oklahoman.
  • The VA in June 2014 hired Florida-based BCI Construction for $8.7 million to install a generator system and accompanying structure to house the unit at the Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center in Muskogee, Oklahoma. According to the inspector general, the VA did not submit an excavation plan for approval before beginning work. Subsequently, a hillside and parking lot collapsed, and the damage will cost $17.5 million to fix. In addition to supervisory and procedural errors, the inspector general also found that BCI’s worksite to be unsafe. Safety inspections were sporadic, and 49 safety violations were never reported to the government contracting officer, which is a violation of VA policy.
  • The inspector general recommended requiring contracting officer representatives are qualified and follow VA regulations and mandating that employees follow safety inspection guidelines. The current Muskogee hospital director, hired after the collapse, said the facility has implemented the recommendations.
May 9, 2018

Cracks where FIU bridge buckled may have signaled ‘imminent failure’

Source: http://www.miamiherald.com, May 7, 2018
By: Andres Viglucci, Nicholas Nehamas and Jenny Staletovich

A key concrete support truss in the doomed Florida International University pedestrian bridge developed worrisome cracks 10 days before the structure was lifted into place over the Tamiami Trail, photographs and an internal email unintentionally released by the school show.

The documents, released in response to public records requests from the Miami Herald, show that FIU’s construction and engineering team discovered potentially problematic cracks in the bridge earlier than officials have previously acknowledged.

The cracks were found in late February at the base of a diagonal support member at the north end of the span. Independent engineers have identified that as the point where the structure shattered on March 15 while under construction, sending the 950-ton bridge crashing onto the roadway below and claiming six lives.

Three independent engineers who examined the photos, records and bridge blueprints at the Herald’s request concurred the cracks were a red flag signaling potentially critical structural problems. Outside experts have zeroed in on that truss member, identified in plans as No. 11, as being “under-designed” — that is, not strong enough to withstand the pressure from the weight of the bridge it was supposed to hold up.…

April 17, 2018

Sickened Coal Ash Cleanup Workers Seek Justice From Tennessee Valley Authority Contractor

Source: http://www.truth-out.org, April 17, 2018
By: Sue Sturgis

At the same time the Trump administration is seeking to roll back regulations designed to protect people and the environment from toxic coal ash, hundreds of workers who cleaned up the nation’s largest-ever coal ash spill and claim it sickened them are still waiting for their day in court.

A team of attorneys has filed lawsuits in federal court on behalf of 53 dead and sick workers against Jacobs Engineering, a Fortune 500 government contractor hired by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to clean up following the spill of over a billion gallons of coal ash from a holding pond at the federally-owned corporation’s Kingston power plant in eastern Tennessee on Dec. 22, 2008. The spill inundated a nearby residential community and contaminated the Emory and Clinch rivers with coal ash, which is laden with heavy metalsradioactive elements, and other health-damaging contaminants. The disaster also spurred the federal regulations now targeted for rollback.

After the USA Today Network-Tennessee published an investigation into conditions at the cleanup site, more workers came forward with similar stories of lung disease, cancers, and skin conditions. Since then, the attorneys involved in the case filed a new lawsuit in state court on behalf of an additional 180 dead or sick workers.

The federal lawsuit is expected to get underway later this year. It was delayed in part due to a fire at the offices of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, the cause of which remains unknown.

While the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) wanted the cleanup workers to be given protective gear, it met resistance from Jacobs Engineering and The Shaw Group, the Louisiana-based government contractor hired by TVA for technical advice on the project. Workers say the companies downplayed the dangers of coal ash and seemed concerned about alarming the public.

In the end, the EPA signed off on a safety plan that did not require workers to be given protective suits and that made it difficult for them to qualify for a respirator or even a dust mask — and the companies resisted implementing even that.

“Jacobs’ site safety manager, Tom Bock, and TVA site supervisor Gary McDonald both have admitted refusing workers’ requests for respirators and dust masks in violation of the plan’s rules on the approval process,” the USA Today Network-Tennessee reported.

Warnings Were Given

The news network’s reporting on the Kingston cleanup recounted the dangerous working conditions at the spill site, with tornados of coal ash blowing across the landscape and workers eating atop coal ash heaps with only bottled water to clean themselves. However, it did not get all of the facts right. This is how the first story in the series opened:

It was the nation’s largest coal ash spill, and it would bring a stampede of government supervisors, environmental advocates, lawyers, journalists, politicians and contractors to Kingston, Tenn.

But not one of them asked why the hundreds of blue-collar laborers cleaning up the mess weren’t wearing even basic dust masks.

It’s not true that no one visiting the disaster site inquired into the workers’ safety.…

April 12, 2018

THE BAGGAGE SYSTEM AT DENVER: PROSPECTS AND LESSONS

This article discusses the fundamental design difficulties of the fully automated baggage system originally planned for the New Denver Airport, and their implications for airport and airline management. Theory, industrial experience, and the reality at Denver emphasize the difficulty of achieving acceptable standards of performance when novel, complex systems are operating near capacity. United Airlines will thus make the Denver system “work” by drastically reducing its complexity and performance. Automated baggage systems are risky. Airlines and airports considering their use should assess their design cautiously and far in advance, and install complementary, backup systems from the start.

Read here.

April 12, 2018

Case Study: The New Terminal 2E at Paris – Charles De Gaulle Airport

Airport Systems Planning, Design & Management Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Read here.