April 20, 2011 - Bend Bulletin - Bend set to expand Bridge Creek water contract

Apr 21, 2011

April 20, 2011 - Bend Bulletin - Bend set to expand Bridge Creek water contract

Bend set to expand Bridge Creek water contract

By Nick Grube / The Bulletin
Published: April 20. 2011 4:00AM PST

The city of Bend seems poised to add an additional $10.5 million to a $1.66 million contract it has with an engineering firm it hired to design for the reconstruction and reconfiguration of the Bridge Creek water delivery system.

So far that firm, HDR Engineering Inc., has designed about 30 percent of the $58 million to $73 million project, which will involve the construction of a new filtration system that will meet federal drinking water standards and the replacement of two aging pipelines with a single, 10-mile-long steel transmission line. The project may also include the a hydropower plant.

HDR has also performed an additional analysis that compared the costs of upgrading the Bridge Creek system to that of an all-groundwater alternative. That $50,000 study was attacked by critics who, among other things, believed the firm had a multimillion-dollar interest in making the current project appear more financially attractive.

While city officials largely supported the findings in the analysis — and noted at the time that HDR was not guaranteed to receive an extension on its contract — Mayor Jeff Eager has said he would have preferred an independent firm to perform the comparison.

Bend city councilors will decide tonight whether they should give HDR an additional $10.5 million to complete its design of the project and oversee the engineering during construction.

If approved, the firm will work closely with the construction manager/general contractor hired by the city last month, Minneapolis-based Mortenson Construction. As the construction manager/general contractor, Mortenson Construction is involved in everything from preliminary design and engineering to hiring subcontractors and scheduling the work.

The city did not seek bids from other firms to complete the Bridge Creek design. City Engineer Tom Hickmann said there are several reasons for that, perhaps most importantly the fact that he thinks the firm has done a good job.

“It would be a very unusual move to change design consultants in the middle of design,” Hickmann said. “That typically is not something you would do unless you were very unhappy with the services they provided, and we are not at all unhappy with the design services they’ve provided.”

According to HDR’s contract extension, the firm will continue working on the project until January 2015. Though the project is expected to be operational by fall of 2014, Hickmann said that extra time is needed to make sure there aren’t any “bugs” in the system that need to be fixed.

Nick Grube can be reached at 541-633-2160 or at ngrube@bendbulletin.com.

Published Daily in Bend Oregon by Western Communications, Inc. © 2010

http://www.bendbulletin.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20110420/NEWS01/104200371

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