Light at the end of the Brightwater tunnel

Monday, April 5, 2010

From the Office of the King County Executive
New contractor scheduled to complete BT-3 tunnel a year sooner and for $20 million less than previous contractor.  BT-3 - Central Tunnel called Rainier – Kenmore to Ballinger Way, 3.75 mile tunnel in need of repair.

Efforts to complete construction on a stalled portion of the Brightwater project moved forward today with the signing of a new tunneling contractor.

“Where change is needed, we will make it. Where we had a tunneling contractor who couldn’t get the job done, we found someone who can,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “By making this change we can better meet our commitment to ratepayers to complete the Brightwater project as quickly and cost-effectively as possible.”

Managers in the Wastewater Treatment Division are set to brief the Metropolitan King County Council on the terms and conditions of the new contract at the Council’s Committee of the Whole meeting this Wednesday, April 7. After satisfying any of the Council’s concerns, the Executive will then put his signature to the agreement.

“I support Executive Constantine’s leadership on this issue and his willingness to keep the tunnel project moving by taking decisive action,” said Council Chair Bob Ferguson. “The Council will be interested in hearing the specifics of his proposal, but the potential of getting the tunnel completed sooner and for less money is good news.”

Joint venture contractor Jay Dee Coluccio (JDC) has already signed the contract to complete the remaining 1.9 miles of the four-mile BT-3 tunnel being built as part of the Brightwater Treatment System’s 13-mile conveyance pipeline. Construction on the BT-3 tunnel has been suspended since May 2009 after inspections revealed serious damage to a tunnel boring machine nicknamed “Rainier.”

Jay Dee and Coluccio are currently part of the joint venture Jay Dee, Coluccio and Taisei, which successfully completed the four-mile-long BT-4 tunnel that runs from Point Wells to the Ballinger Portal in Shoreline. Taisei Corporation has commitments on other projects and will not be part of the new joint venture to complete the BT-3 tunnel.

King County originally contracted with Vinci, Parsons and Frontier-Kemper (VPFK) for construction of the BT-3 tunnel. VPFK proposed an estimate of $98 million and a schedule through the end of 2012 to repair the damaged machine and complete the tunnel construction. The Executive on February 18 deemed the proposal to be unacceptable to the county and ratepayers, and declared an emergency to enable the county to waive bidding requirements and hire a new contractor.

The new BT-3 completion contract with JDC calls for completion of mining in September 2011, and all work under the contract to be complete by late 2011. JDC will be reimbursed for the actual cost to build the tunnel. The estimated cost of the entire contract is $77.6 million, which includes nearly $2 million in incentives if the contractor completes the work on time. The contractor could earn additional incentives of up to $1.5 million for completing the work early.

VPFK will remain under contract to complete the eastbound BT-2 tunnel, which resumed mining again in February after repairs were successfully completed on a damaged tunnel boring machine nicknamed “Helene.”

King County project managers do not yet know the extent of the costs associated with the delays and repairs, or who will ultimately bear responsibility for any additional costs. Both issues will be subject to negotiation with the companies involved.

Construction progress on other portions of the Brightwater project remains on schedule. To date, King County has completed 10 of the 13 miles of conveyance tunneling, and the treatment plant north of Woodinville is more than 70 percent completed. 

Photos courtesy Brightwater


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