Sections of sidewalk are dotted along the side of Stewart Road in Galveston on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017.

Stuart Villanueva/The Daily News


The city of Galveston is seeking an additional $350,000 to resume construction of sidewalks along Stewart Road, said Ross Blackketter, director of capital projects.

The city halted the project in January after contractor J.W. Kelso Co. submitted a change order for $349,000. The change order, or a request for more money, was caused by a single typo written in the bid for the project.

“The project was running really, really smoothly,” said Bryan Fisher, board chairman of Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone 14, which is funding the sidewalk project. “Anything that runs that smoothly, something’s bound to happen. And it did.”

The project, originally priced at $827,971, will place sidewalks from 83rd Street to Sandhill Crane Park. Work began in May 2016, and long sections of sidewalk have been installed in some places.

A single typo eventually stalled the progress, however. Halff Associates, the engineering company that prepared the project bid documents, wrote that the project would require 1,250 square feet of retaining wall, instead of the 1,250 linear feet that’s actually needed, Blackketter said. The actual number requires three times as much material.

The mistake can be traced back to a single spot on the bid documents, where an “s” should have been written as an “l,” Blackketter said in January.

The amount J.W. Kelso requested in the change order is legally more than a city is allowed to pay. Change orders can’t exceed more than 25 percent of the project cost, and the change order amounted to 42 percent of the original bid.

The city will instead seek to fund the additional $350,000 from a number of sources. The city will ask Galveston City Council next week to approve a change order of an amount between $170,000 and $180,000, Blackketter said.

The city already has about $82,000 in its account from the zone’s board, and an additional $100,000 from the zone board would complete the amount needed to fund the project, Blackketter said.

The Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone 14 board on Tuesday approved a $100,000 increase in funding, and it will now have to be finalized on Friday by the Galveston Redevelopment Authority.

City officials are working with Halff Associates to get them to help cover the cost, but officials at the engineering company don’t seem receptive to the idea, Blackketter said.

“I can’t promise that we’re going to be getting anything from them but we’re going to be working with them to recover what they can,” Blackketter said.

Representatives from Halff Associates did not respond to a request for comment.

If the change order and the increase in funding are approved, then construction can resume and the project could be completed a few weeks later, Blackketter said.

The project seemed to be going well until the change order was submitted, said Councilwoman Carolyn Sunseri, of District 6, who also serves on the zone board.

“I was encouraged with the progress because it seemed to be moving pretty quickly there, and then it just stopped,” she said.

Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone 14, commonly known as the Airport TIRZ, includes Scholes International Airport, Schlitterbahn Galveston Island Water Park, Moody Gardens and housing developments as far west as 7 1/2 Mile Road.

Tax increment reinvestment zones make public improvements with the intention of raising taxable property values. The zone is then paid back with increased tax revenue generated by the improvements.

Samantha Ketterer: 409-683-5241; or on Twitter at @sam_kett


(10) comments

Don Schlessinger

And they want us to give them 62 mil for more construction.

Micheal Byrd

Well said.

Don Ciaccio

Don, so we should not fix our failing infrastructure because of a mistake in a engineering firm m that will be sued for their mistake? Are you kidding me? Just say you're a CAVE man (Citizen Against Virtually Everything) and move on.

Ron Binkley

And Halff Associates thinks they have no responsibility? You would think it would be cheaper to pony up some bucks now instead of paying more after Galveston sues them!

Don Ciaccio

Yeah, halff is not only responsible for THEIR error, they are stupid enough to think refusing to pay won't get their pants sued off.

Pete Nanos

In another article the city manager accused me of spreading misinformation when I said this 800k project was going to turn into a million dollar project. He does not say anything about what role the city played in this total waste of money. Who decided this project was money well spent? When you see people trying to defend an obvious screw up in so many ways, you question their ability to decide projects going forward. Yes, we need to plan for the future, I'm not sure that the people making these decisions on which projects have made wise choices.

Jarvis Buckley

This was definitely , a costly mistake.
Let's not hurt our Island by voting against the bond issue. Let's require
those that are responsible be held

Pete Nanos

Sorry Jarvis, but I think we harm our island by using good money on poorly thought out projects. Make the politicians justify where they want to spend our money and make sure that money is spent wisely. Otherwise, you will wind up with "sidewalks to nowhere" and in the end they come up short and need more money to complete those projects.

Pete Nanos

Thanks to Samantha and GDN for bringing this issue up for discussion. It comes up at an inopportune time for the city and the bond issue being proposed, but it should serve as a caution to those who are deciding where and how our money is being spent. That being said, I still support the bond issue and will be voting yes.

Ron Shelby

It would have been interesting if this story had asked,...and told us,...whether any of the original project bidders had bid based upon Linear Feet, and therefore lost the bid. If so, will the remainder of the project that was not covered in these costs be appropriately bid out?

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