2010-09-25 / Editorials & Letters

It’s down to the money now!

It’s all over, but the shouting. Chemcote – Buckeye Lake Village’s paving contractor – was wrapping up the botched job this week.

We first raised concerns a month ago when we saw how Buckeye Lake streets were being repaved. Chemcote wasn’t applying a bond or tack coat to the existing surface nor cleaning the roadway in the front of the paver. Both are critical steps to get the new asphalt to stick to the existing surface. A recheck early last week confirmed our fears that nothing much had changed. We have noted that they are using a tack coat on the few streets that weren’t ground down like Maplewood and Mill Dam.

Since last week we’ve taken a detailed look at the project’s Bid Specs/ Contract Documents. What’s spelled out there makes this situation even more disgusting.

The Buckeye Lake specifications require a tack coat in accordance with Ohio Department of Transportation Specifications, Item 407. Item 407 requires that the surface be “thoroughly clean and dry.”

The “Pavement Notes” on Plan Sheet 4 are even more damning. It states: “Pavement replacement shall be performed in the following sequence:

1. Compact backfill

2. Place base layer of asphalt over prime coat (if asphalt is laid over granular surface) or tack coat (if asphalt is laid over bituminous surface)

3. Prior to placement of finish layer of asphalt, contractor shall:

a. Sawcut any additional edge of excavation that have become damaged.

b. Sweep out any debris, dust, sand particles, etc.

c. With compressed air, blow out remainder of debris not removed by above procedures.

d. Immediately place final layer of asphalt.”

That same plan sheet also includes a “proposed typical section” that specifies Item 407 tack coat at 0.075 gallon per square yard. The typical section for where the roadway was cut for a waterline trench calls for an Item 408 Prime Coat which will soak into granular material at 0.40 gallon per square yard and then a tack coat at 0.075 gallon per square yard. During our observation we did not see trench cuts treated any differently than the rest of the street. The bid estimated that 7,706 gallons of prime coat would be needed. We wonder if any prime coat was used.

The plan sheet and pavement notes also call for the use of a joint seal or “asphalt cement coating” where the new pavement butts up against existing pavement. That happens with every street that runs off Ohio 79. We’ve seen no evidence that an “asphalt cement coating” was used. This coating helps bind the new asphalt to the old and seals off a potential entry point for water to get into the joint. Once water gets into the joint, it’s just a matter of time until pieces start breaking off.

In addition to Chemcote’s bid of $722,643.10, the village is to pay M•E Companies $85,000 for “detailed plans and specifications, cost estimate, assistance with OPWC funding, contract documents and bidding forms, bidding process, construction administration and inspection.”

It sure looks like we could have saved much of that hefty engineering fee since it appears critical parts of the plans and specifications were ignored and inspection is meaningless. Hopefully you’re sitting down, because that meaningless or worse inspection costs $70 per hour. That’s not a typo; it is SEVENTY dollars per hour!

That $70 per hour inspector is cheap compared to Project Director/Executive Kevin Wood at $180 an hour. He billed for three hours on “asphalt issues” after The Beacon started asking questions in August. On August 25, he told our Scott Rawdon among other things that the tack coat is a separate line item. That was to assure us that the village won’t be paying for something it isn’t getting.

Unfortunately, our $180 per hour project director doesn’t appear to be very familiar with the bid specs or contract documents. M•E issued an addendum to the bid specs dated July 1, 2010, that states, “Tack Coat is to be included in the Asphalt Price.” Chemcote acknowledged and accepted the addendum in writing. That means at an absolute minimum that Chemcote must reduce its $7.50 per square yard two inch deep price by the value of the missing tack coat. But that 5-6 percent discount doesn’t come close to the real cost of failing to follow contract specifications for the tack coat and “thoroughly cleaning.” That cost is the premature failure – perhaps as soon as this winter – of the new pavement on many of our repaved streets.

There is one tiny flicker of good news. So far no one – Chemcote or M•E – has been paid. M•E’s five invoices for this project through August now total $48,191.38. So Buckeye Lake Village officials have one final opportunity to stand up for residents and taxpayers. Don’t pay Chemcote or M•E a dime until every option to minimize the financial impact of this debacle is explored with both companies. Hopefully our “get-along council gang” will stand up for us. Once those bills are paid, we can kiss any hope for significant restitution goodbye. We simply can not afford to throw away this much money.

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