More than a year behind schedule, crews are wrapping up construction of a series of Seawall Boulevard improvement projects.
The delays won’t be without penalty. Once construction is complete, the city will seek thousands of dollars in liquidated damages, City Manager Brian Maxwell said. That money would be taken out of a fund withheld until a project is complete, Maxwell said.
“There’s going to be some negotiation,” Maxwell said. “Ultimately, there will be some money discounted off the retainage.”
The city penned a $4.9 million contract in Nov. 2015 with General Contractor Services to construct and install several improvements on Seawall Boulevard. Those include bus stops, benches, bike racks, bollard lights, planters and restrooms.
Crews on Friday were completing the last of the planter boxes and will then move on to the last restroom to be installed, at 39th Street and Seawall Boulevard, city fleet director David Smith said.
Construction should be done in mid-February, said John Carrara, senior vice president of the Goodman Corp., a transportation consulting group that was hired to oversee the improvements.
Maxwell sent a letter to General Contractor Services in May, informing it that the city would charge $250 in liquidated damages every day the company was late completing the project.
“The city of Galveston is greatly alarmed by the extended period of time for the completion of the above referenced project,” Maxwell said in the letter.
By that point, the company was already 151 days over the initial completion date, Maxwell said.
Most of the delays in construction have occurred because of crews hitting obstructions under the seawall, Smith said. When that happens, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has to clear the scene, further slowing construction, he said.
“Every time they drill, they hit things,” Smith said. “It’s been troublesome to get it done.”
Carrara cited bad weather and the obstructions as reasons for the delays, but said construction has continued with the acknowledgment that liquidated damages will be deducted from the payment amount.
“All parties have agreed to proceed based on what was in that May letter,” Carrara said.
Delays also occurred because there “appeared to be minimal activity present on the project” when city management toured the area in 2017, Maxwell said in the letter.
“Delays are understandable; indifference is not,” the letter states.
Carrara disputes those claims.
“I never saw that as being a real problem,” Carrara said.
If penalties are imposed at $250 per day, damages to date would exceed $62,000. The city will negotiate that amount with the construction company, which will likely seek not to be charged for bad-weather days, Maxwell said.
Most of the projects, except for the restroom at 39th Street and Seawall Boulevard, have been completed. Four other restrooms, called Portland Loos after the city where they were invented, already are on Seawall Boulevard at 19th, 29th, 45th and 61st streets, Smith said.
Those won’t be open for public use until the construction company releases the project back to the city, city officials have said.
The Portland Loos are stainless-steel toilets designed to discourage loitering and include shower stations for beachgoers.