published Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

Project delays irk Jasper board

Ryan Lewis

JASPER, Tenn. — City officials are irritated they will have to pay more because of delays in the waterline relocation project along Highway 41 in connection with the construction of a new bridge across Nickajack Lake.

Gary Cosby of CTI Engineers Inc. asked Jasper Board of Mayor and Aldermen members to increase his $20,000 engineering services budget by $12,500 to cover the expenses brought on by delays.

Part of the delay, he said, involved the final approval of the waterline relocation.

The other concerns a hold-up on the inspection on the relocated lines on each side of the bridge, which the town contracted Chastain Construction in Ooltewah to do.

“We had budgeted six weeks [for inspection] for a total of $15,000, and we gave the contractor six weeks to do the job,” Cosby said. “It was a compressed schedule because we were concerned about how quickly the [Tennessee Department of Transportation] contractor would get in and start digging and possibly tearing up our line.”

The construction probably will take up to 13 weeks instead of six, officials said.

“I’m not asking for seven [additional] weeks [of funds],” Cosby said. “I’m asking for three because we’ve been able to spread [the funds] out by just trying to cover it when we had to be there. So, it would be a total of nine weeks’ budget for 13 weeks of construction.”

Jasper Mayor Billy Simpson recommended the board approve the increase and said there’s little the town can do if the project runs longer than its schedule.

“I don’t agree with that,” Alderman Steve Looney said. “The contractor ought to be responsible. If there’s a runover, he should have to worry about this, not us. He’s the one that signed the contract.”

In fact, officials said there are clauses in the contract with Chastain that give Jasper the right to charge liquidated damages for exceeding the contracted time frame.

Interim Jasper Attorney Billy Gouger said he will look over the contract to find out what the town can do to recover its losses from delays.

“In the end, Jasper is controlling the funds,” he said. “So, if the board withholds enough money to repay the town for whatever it had to pay to cover an overage, then that puts the burden back on [the contractor].”

Cosby said recovering damages is a separate issue from the $12,500 increase.

“I’m kind of at [the contractor’s] mercy,” he said. “We try to encourage him and help him, but in the end, it may be like pushing a rope. I can’t make things happen.”

The board unanimously approved a motion to increase the budget by $12,500 and to seek to recover that money from the contractor.

Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at ryanlewis34@gmail.com.

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