CEDAR RAPIDS — A construction contractor could face fees if the company misses upcoming completion milestones for a Cedar Rapids road project that was pegged to start no later than June 26 but just got underway this week, a city official said.
Ricklefs Excavating, of Anamosa, signed a $1.2 million city contract on May 4 to extend 16th Avenue SE from Fourth to Fifth streets SE and complete underground utility work. The contract identified an early start date of June 12 and a late start date of June 26.
After the starting date was pushed back week after week, Ricklefs was on site earlier this week and on Friday started moving in equipment and unloading supplies.
Cory Elwick, project manager for Ricklefs, attributed the delay in starting to discovering the layout of the storm sewer conflicted with Alliant Energy concrete ducts under the old Fourth Street SE railroad right of way. The alignment had to be redesigned, he said.
Emily Muhlbach, the city’s public works spokeswoman, said the design plans provided by the city included the Alliant duct, as well as approximate elevation. Lee Tippe, a city project engineer, said Ricklefs was given revised drawings in early July so the firm could order precast intake boxes.
Elwick said he anticipates his crew will be able to make up lost time and still meet its deadlines.
The contract has milestone completion deadlines for different aspects of the project, including underground utilities and partial paving by Sept. 29 and completion of sodding and seeding by May 31, 2018. Final completion is due by June 22, 2018.
Ricklefs faces $500 per day in damage charges for missing milestone deadlines and $1,000 per day for missing the final completion deadline, according to the contract.
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“The contractor is past the late start date so there will possibly be monetary disincentives applied if they don’t meet the contractual completion milestones,” said Doug Wilson, the city’s Paving for Progress manager. “But if they bring enough manpower to the project when they start they can get back on schedule.
“We are not too concerned yet.” Wilson noted since it is a new street, it should not disrupt traffic and they can work later into the fall than a typical street project.
Muhlbach said start dates listed in contracts, including the Ricklefs contract, is for documentation purposes rather than a requirement. Ricklefs can dictate what schedule it sets to meet completion deadlines, she said. By default, city officials consider the project started as of June 26, she said.
“The contractor may choose to start as his schedule and resources allow,” Muhlbach said, adding, “It’s the completion date and the milestone dates that matter, not the start date.”
Ricklefs has four active city contracts, including a $1.2 million roundabout project on Kirkwood Boulevard SW near College Community School District. Muhlbach said city officials are not concerned the number of projects Ricklefs has with the city is impacting its ability to complete work, and they anticipate the firm will meet its milestone deadlines.
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