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Hernando Beach channel dredge contractor tries to reassure officials

BROOKSVILLE — With a fast-approaching deadline and continuing problems with the Hernando Beach channel dredge, the president of the company performing the work begged the Hernando County Commission this week not to lose faith.

"We have not lost confidence. Our (subcontractors) have not lost confidence, and neither have our employees,'' said Andrew Goetz, president of BCPeabody.

Goetz acknowledged that his company knew the job would be difficult, "but it turned out to be harder than we thought,'' he said. "I think we've demonstrated that we've overcome every challenge we have faced.''

County staffers, who are the construction managers for the job, raised numerous red flags on Tuesday as Goetz sought his latest payment and resolution of recent issues.

Ultimately, commissioners voted to issue a letter of concern to BCPeabody, but agreed to the pay request, although elements of it were disputed by the county staff.

As of the last survey, just 20 percent of the material had been removed from the channel, transportation services director Susan Goebel told commissioners.

The project is behind on the third revised schedule and significantly behind all previous schedules.

"BCPeabody is continuing to fall further behind,'' Goebel told commissioners.

The latest schedule "left little room for delays,'' she said. Yet, there have been "numerous days of inactivity'' on the dredge site. Goebel also noted that the county had already paid the company 56 percent of its roughly $8 million contract.

Goetz disputed that, saying that his crews were working "24/7" on the project and had every intention of getting it done by the end-of-the-year deadline.

Among the elements of the latest pay request the staff questioned, Goebel said, were the method of calculating the payment for volume of materials removed and costs associated with demobilizing the hydraulic dredge and maintaining the dewatering site.

Goetz said his company was only asking for payments it is due under the contract, and the county's chief procurement officer, Russell Wetherington, agreed.

Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the pay request of $562,903, bringing the total paid to $5.1 million, or 63 percent of the total contract value. The commission also voted unanimously to send the letter of concern and seek a new schedule from BCPeabody, as well as an explanation of what the company plans to do in the coming months to ensure that the job is done according to the permit, without change orders and by Dec. 31.

The commission opted not to send a more serious letter — called a "letter to cure'' — or to contact BCPeabody's bonding company at this time. But Commissioner Wayne Dukes warned that if the board is having the same conversation again in November, the outcome could be different.

Commissioners also tabled another controversial issue: where the county should temporarily and permanently store dredged material. The county and BCPeabody disagree about who should pay for the storage because the kind of material being dredged from the channel has changed since BCPeabody switched to an all-mechanical process and the resulting rock, sand and silt mixture cannot be easily used for other purposes.

County staff will bring forward a proposal at a later meeting.

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at behrendt@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1434.

Hernando Beach channel dredge contractor tries to reassure officials 09/14/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 14, 2011 7:47pm]
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