Sunday, November 09, 2014

Repair Work On Orkin Drive Costing Nearly $220,000, With Oconee County Paying Half

Problem Found Before Construction

Oconee County is paying nearly $110,000 as the county’s share of the cost of repairing Orkin Drive, the main entranceway to the Caterpillar plant on the east side of Bogart.

The roadway failed shortly after the two counties accepted responsibility for it in August and September of 2013, and it was partially closed and rebuilt at the end of last year. Total cost of repair was just less than $220,000, with Athens-Clarke County and Oconee County splitting the expenses.

Athens-Clarke County engineers blamed the road failure on a bury pit of fill materials hidden beneath the surface containing old asphalt, tree stumps and branches.

At U.S. 78

A test boring conducted before the road was built had located fill at the site where the road failed, but a decision was made to go forward with the construction despite the discovery.

County Finance Director Wes Geddings told the county’s Industrial Development Authority at its meeting last month that the bill for the repair work had come in and that he would report back to the group at its meeting at 4 p.m. tomorrow at the courthouse about payment of the bill.

Report On Boring

The report on the finding from the boring surfaced as a result of dispute between Williams and Associates, which did the engineering work for Orkin Drive, and ABE Consulting.

The county had selected ABE Consulting for design work of the proposed Parkway Boulevard in the Epps Bridge Road commercial area, and Williams and Associates filed an open records request to learn about details of that selection.

ABE Consulting countered with its own open records request, asking for access to a variety of documents involving Williams and Associates and the Caterpillar project.

I did an open records request to obtain the documents provided to both Williams and Associates and ABE Consulting and received a copy of the report containing the information on the borings.

Findings of Borings

GeoHydro Engineers, 190 Ben Burton Road, Athens-Clarke County, prepared a Report of Subsurface Exploration and Geotechnical Engineering Evaluation for Williams and Associates on March 14, 2012.

According to that report, the company conducted a test boring at a location identified as R-24 on Feb. 27, 2012, and discovered “firm red-brown silty fine sand (FILL)” in the first 12 feet of the boring and “firm gray-brown silty fine sand with roots (FILL)” from 12 to 18 feet beneath the surface.

According to the map in the report, R-24 was at just southwest of where Orkin Drive was to intersect with U.S. 78 and where the roadway ultimately failed.

Athens-Clarke County Engineer Administrator Jerry Oberholtzer told me in October of 2013 that analyses conducted after the road had failed showed that old asphalt, tree stumps and branches were buried six to eight feet beneath the surface. In some spots the pit contained six to eight feet of the debris, he said.

Borings taken during construction had missed the problem, Oberholtzer said at that time.

IDA Meeting

Oconee County Finance Director Geddings mentioned the need to make payment to Athens-Clarke County “for some roadwork” at the end of his financial report to the IDA at its meeting on Oct. 13. (See the video below.)

None of the members expressed any surprise or asked any questions about the reason for the payments.

Blaine Williams, assistant manager for transportation and community development, sent Rusty Haygood, then director of development for Oconee County, an email with an invoice for the work on Oct. 6.

Williams of Athens-Clarke County said the invoice was for “some repair work undertaken on Orkin Drive to address road failure.”

Invoice Details

The email and invoice, which I obtained through an open records request, list the total cost for the “Orkin Drive Repairs” as $219,902.16. Included was a detailed list of expenses for the individual contractors.

The exact costs to be paid by each county is $109,951.08.

Williams and Associates, 2470 Daniells Bridge Road in Oconee County, had an $870,000 no-bid contract with the IDA for the Caterpillar site work, including for design work on Dozier Drive and Orkin Drive.

Dozer Drive runs from the Atlanta Highway to a cul-de-sac south of the Caterpillar facility. Orkin Drive runs from U.S. 78 to Dozer Drive.

Repaired Section Of Orkin Drive

Geddings told the IDA in his financial report in February that actual payments to Williams and Associates by the Oconee County and Athens-Clarke County industrial development authorities was $732,271.

ABE’s Open Records Request

In the open records request Abe Abouhamdan, owner of ABE Consulting, filed with the county on Sept. 4, he asked for a record of the total payments made to the “engineering and surveying consultant” for the Caterpillar site work.

Abouhamdan, who chair’s the county’s Citizen Advisory Committee for Land Use and Transportation Planning, also asked for “All Geo-technical Subsurface Exploration Reports including boring logs and Geo-technical recommendations and summaries.”

Abouhamdan directed his request to County Administrative Officer Jeff Benko, Public Works Director Emil Beshara, Industrial Development Authority Chair Rick Waller, and Board of Commissioners Chairman Melvin Davis.

Beshara provided Abouhamdan with a copy of the GeoHydro Engineers report, my open records request showed.

Beshara told me on Oct. 27 that he had obtained his copy of that report from Williams and Associates.

In the summary of that report, directed to Jon Williams, president of Williams and Associates, Geotechnical Engineer A. Marty Peninger said all borings with the exception of R-24 encountred 4 to 12 inches of topsoil.

Peninger said that, “Starting at the ground surface, boring R-24 encountered previously placed fill materials extending to a depth of about 17 feet.”

Williams’ Request

Williams filed his open request on Aug. 27, the day after the BOC had tentatively agreed to award the design work for Parkway Boulevard to ABE Consulting.

Williams requested information on the bidding process and on ABE Consulting’s qualifications for the project.

After I received the documents that Beshara had provided Williams on the bidding process, I filed an additional open records request with the county Finance Department to review all bidding documents and correspondence for the Parkway Boulevard design work.

This included the first wave of bidding in February of this year and the second wave of bidding in August.

February Bids

Bids were due on Feb. 27 for design work for the project, and Frank Pittman, a partner in Williams and Associates, and Jimmy Parker from Precision Planning Inc. of Monroe raised a number of questions in the week before that deadline.

Oconee County Purchasing Officer Karen Barnett told Pittman and Parker that the project did not require a permit from the United State Army Corps of Engineers. She also told Pittman that the new road would be 2,500 feet in length.

PPI did not submit a bid.

Williams and Associates, Moreland Altobelli, Norcross, and Haines Gipson and Associates, Lawrenceville, did.

Williams and Associates was low bidder with $79,380.

Purchasing Officer Barnett put a note in the file on Feb. 28 indicating that ABE Consulting submitted a bid on Feb. 27 after the deadline and that the bid was returned unopened.

Second Round Of Biding

On March 21, Finance Director Geddings told Barnett that the county would rebid the design work for Parkway Boulevard because the actual length of the roadway is 3,300 linear feet, not 2,500, and because a Corps of Engineers permit is needed.

This time, five companies submitted bids, including ABE Consulting, Williams and Associates and PPI., Moreland Altobelli and Haines Gipson did not.

Williams and Associates submitted the same bid as in the first wave. When geo technical costs were included, the final bid was $98,980.

ABE Consulting bid $96,925.

Scoring By County

ABE Consulting was given a score of 42 in the evaluation process, while Williams and Associates was given a score of 36.

Williams and Associates was scored low in terms of responsiveness in the past to the county and in terms of its experience in working with the county and with the Georgia Department of Transportation.

Beshara told me in our telephone conversation on Oct. 27 that Dan Wilson, assistant county engineer, did the evaluations.

The county awarded the bid to ABE Consulting on Sept. 30.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Athens-Clarke County engineers blamed the road failure on a bury pit of fill materials hidden beneath the surface containing old asphalt, tree stumps and branches.
A test boring conducted before the road was built had located fill at the site where the road failed, but a decision was made to go forward with the construction despite the discovery."

Go forward despite the discovery???

So Oconee County taxpayers are paying over $100,000 because county officials, and Williams & Associates, ignored boring samples??!!

Nothing surprises me anymore in Oconee. Blatant incompetence, yet no one ever calls out Melvin Davis, Rick Waller, Jeff Benko, Emil Beshara, Blaine Williams, etc.

What do the other county commissioners actually do? Why don't they ever ask the hard questions. We are 15 years away from being Gwinnett East. No more family farms, no identity...just chain restaurants and dollar stores coming our way.