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Mayor says no public money will be used to fix Antelope Valley bridges

Antelope Valley channel in 2010.

Mayor Chris Beutler and the Joint Antelope Valley Authority announced Monday that seven bridges in the Antelope Valley Project area will be repaired at no cost to taxpayers.

An agreement was reached last week with project consultants and contractors to repair areas of cracking concrete surface material on the bottoms of the bridges. The agreement includes the assignment of financial responsibility. Repair work will begin this week and is expected to be completed in mid-November.

“The consultants and contractors took total financial responsibility, and the JAVA partners were even reimbursed $30,000 to defray expenses related to the repairs,” Beutler said in a press release. “We did exactly what the public asked of us: we insisted on accountability and held the taxpayer harmless. … I want to thank the consultants and contractors for stepping up and helping find a solution.”

The primary consultants and contractors are Parsons Brinckerhoff Americas, Inc.; Hawkins Construction Company; Constructors Inc.; United Contractors Inc.; and Watts Electric Company.

The bridges opened to traffic between July 2007 and October 2009. Defects were discovered by city staff late last year and trails under the bridges were closed Jan. 4 after an 18-inch piece of concrete fell from the O Street bridge. The trails were reopened Jan. 28 after temporary bridge repairs.

The mayor thanked the Federal Highway Administration and the Nebraska Department of Roads for their work on the issue. The NDOR’s independent evaluation concluded the problems were caused by several factors, including the absence of required drainage in electrical conduits, poor workmanship and poor inspections. The NDOR also found a problem with roadway expansion joints which will be corrected by the city. The NDOR report also covered the extent of the damage and proposed solutions. The estimated cost of the repairs is about $250,000.

“In the course of a project as large as Antelope Valley, it is not unusual to have aspects that don’t work as planned,” Beutler said. “In this case, a problem was identified, project leadership demanded accountability on behalf of taxpayers, and good corporate citizens stepped in to fix the problems. It is a successful conclusion to a difficult challenge.”

The repair plans were approved by federal and state officials in August. Repair work will begin on the Military Road Bridge and will proceed south to the “Y”, Vine, “P”, “Q”, “O” and “N” street bridges. Temporary trail closures will be necessary.


Antelope Valley bridges still not repaired

An Antelope Valley bridge.

Four Antelope Valley bridges that are cracking and spalling still have not been repaired by the city since the damage was reported in January. But soon they will be.

Kris Humphrey, the public works employee who has overseen the Antelope Valley Project in recent years, said the city recently received approval from the state Department of Roads to issue contractors a “notice to proceed” with repair work, which is expected to cost between $250,000 and $270,000. (Talk about bureaucracy, huh?) Those notices went out Friday and then the city will work with contractors “to develop the specific schedule for the repairs,” Humphrey said.

The Antelope Valley bridges spanning O, P, Q and N streets have evidence of spalling — concrete cracking and falling away — even though the oldest of them just opened in July 2007. The $246 million Antelope Valley Project was designed to control flooding, revitalize older neighborhoods and improve transportation in the heart of Lincoln, along Antelope Creek. The project includes six miles of roads, two miles of creek channel improvements, 12 street bridges, three rail bridges and three pedestrian bridges.

But this year the already-over-budget Antelope Valley Project was tarnished when the city had to close its bike trails after a piece of concrete fell from the O Street bridge. The trails were later reopened.

And now, eight months later, it’s still not clear who’s responsible. When asked who will pay for the repairs, Humphrey said, “we are still under discussion and our intention is to do all in our power to ensure that the contractors and consultants responsible pay for the cost of repairing the bridges.”

It’s not easy to determine, since the bridges were designed, built and inspected by a myriad of consultants and subconsultants. As Humphrey said, “There is not a clear cut division of responsibility between the consultant and contractor.”

Hawkins Construction Co. was the primary contractor on two of the bridges and United Contractors, Inc. and Park Construction were the prime contractors on the other two bridges.

The company in charge of both design and engineering for all of the bridges was Parsons Brinckerhoff of New York — one of the world’s largest transportation engineering companies. PB’s design subcontractors were engineering firm Olsson Associates, Erickson Sullivan (which did aesthetics like lights) and HWS Consulting. PB’s construction subcontractors were Olsson Associates, The Schemmer Associates and HWS.

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