Rifle waterline project runs nearly $400,000 over
Rifle’s downtown south waterline replacement project, which was originally slated to be completed around Thanksgiving, had final testing last week as the project’s final price tag came in nearly $400,000 over budget.
“This was a difficult project,” council member Annick Pruett began. “With difficult projects, I don’t think it’s too early to have those difficult conversations.”
“As a council member, I’m looking at this number and I’m thinking how am I going to explain this to the people who pay taxes? $400,000. What processes are we going to put in place so this never happens again? Bottom line is we have a community to answer to.”
At Wednesday’s council meeting on Feb. 7, Rifle Public Works Director Rick Barth said the project price came in at $1.83 million, approximately $400,000 higher than the contract and $300,000 higher than the consulting engineer’s estimate. The initial estimate was at $1.5 million.
According to background information delivered to council and prepared for by Barth, major items causing the difference were having to bore under the Interstate 70 ramps via hand tunnel (around $200,000), 20 more additional pipe hangar systems ($50,000), and significant field-fit modifications to get all 105 hangars to fit the structure ($60,000).
The water department budget from 2017 has available funds for the overrun without any supplement request necessary.
This is a vital waterline to serve the south side of the city, Barth said.
“All these rumors that we were being sucked for money because of contractor issues, I strongly believe that was not the case,” he said. “He wasn’t getting paid more for being out there more. He got paid for putting out 300 foot of waterline. It was a unit price job. He got paid for material work that was done.”
The major elements that caused delay were the pipe hangar systems, which work, but due to the extreme amount of field customization required were significantly slowed in installation, states the background information.
“It’s not quite the great deal that we thought we got and I’m having a difficult time with this from a tax payer’s perspective,” council member Theresa Hamilton said.
“I appreciate the points being made and I want to assure all of you that this has been a significant learning process for staff and myself,” said City Manager Jim Nichols. “We recognize we placed all of you in a very difficult position. We regret that and we assure you won’t do that again.
“There will be change orders, but how we handle them and how we communicate with you will definitely change.”
Nichols said he hopes to have workshops on qualification-based selection and other potential changes to the process later in the spring.
Council approved the final billing of the project.