Steel problems delay Johnson Street Bridge completion to 2017

Construction on the Johnson Street Bridge site will likely grind to a halt this summer as workers await steel from China.

PCL Constructors, the company building the bridge, stopped all fabrication of bridge steel by Jiangsu Zhongtai Steel Structure on July 25, 2014, after serious deficiencies were discovered.

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Fabrication isn’t expected to resume until March, pushing project completion to January 2017, a delay of about 10 months.

Interim project director Jonathan Huggett told Victoria councillors Thursday that at some point all the work that can be done in preparation for the steel’s arrival will be done.

“I would say that by the end of June, virtually all of the concrete [work] will be finished. We will then go through a period where we sit there with apparently nothing happening for probably six to eight months while that steel is then fabricated, and we’ll just have to accept there’s nothing much we can do about that,” Huggett said.

“We will get the steel here as fast as we can.”

Jiangsu began steel fabrication of main bridge trusses and a large ring rotating mechanism in March 2014. In early July 2014, the city received messages from Atema, PCL’s quality control subcontractor, saying its test results did not match the Chinese company’s results. Ultimately, all of the steel was rejected.

Huggett said the deficiencies were significant.

“This was a pretty unusual failure in a fabrication. To have this level of disregard for established procedures and policies and drawings that were in place was very, very unusual.”

He said he is confident that improved quality-control measures now in place will ensure the steel is up to standard, but trust has to be rebuilt among all parties.

“PCL is solely responsible for the steel, not the city. But we will have our own inspectors going in there unannounced to ensure that the Atema inspectors are there [and] the job is being done. They will talk to the Atema inspectors and make sure that they are satisfied,” Huggett said.

“I’ve made it clear if there are any problems at all, I don’t want to find out a month later there’s problems. I want to know the following morning.”

Mediation between the city, PCL, the MMM Group and subcontractor Hardesty Hanover continues over cost overruns of about $10 million, Huggett said.

PCL Construction filed a change order, saying it needed $7.9 million more than the $62.9 million budgeted for its work.

Design consultant MMM Group and sub-consultant Hardesty Hanover are asking for $840,000 more, and have identified about $1.55 million in costs they say are beyond their contracted commitments.

Huggett said the city is making claims of its own.

“I want to make it really clear in this public forum that the city has, in our opinion, significant financial claims against both PCL and MMM, and we will be filing claims against both PCL and MMM,” he said.

As of Dec. 27, PCL had invoiced $20.65 million, or 32 per cent of its contract amount. MMM Group, the city’s management consultant, had invoiced $8.205 million from the $9.6-million budget for design, permitting, construction administration and project management.

As of December, $1,015,475 of the project contingency had been spent, with $1,799,525 remaining. But city council was told that essentially all of that will go to items such as additional consulting costs to resolve the steel issue, legal costs for change orders and mediation, construction-related costs, landscaping and possibly increased quality control in China.

The existing budget for the entire project is $92.8 million.

Councillors asked staff to report on options for increasing the contingency and for reducing project costs.

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