Recovery costs climb as Bay St. Louis slammed by continuing change orders

The Bay St. Louis City Council has approved change orders requested by its contract engineer that added more than $200,000 to the costs of hurricane infrastructure repairs and renovations to the city sports complex.

At their workshop last week, council members approved change orders totaling $261,172.19. The charges came for additional work to recovery projects, and were requested by Neel-Schaffer, the city’s engineering consultant on the work.

The lion’s share of the additional cost, or more than $161,000, was for extra work done on Area 2 infrastructure rebuilding in the Old Town area. That included pay for 181 items that were not included in the original scope of work.

“It’s a lot to look at,” project engineer Don Lancaster told council members. In one case, he said, a street repaving that began with asphalt had to change when contractors discovered an original concrete street underneath.

That work began with the engineers “not anticipating that we would have to pay for a concrete street,” Lancaster said.

Additional change orders on the new Bay St. Louis Sports Complex, which was recently dedicated, totaled nearly $100,000.

Those included costs of additional work for replacement of bathroom flush valves, additional pavement, excavation, sidewalk additions, and other items.

One cost item, to install toilet paper dispensers in rest rooms, cost $900.

Back in Area 2, other additional costs came from unanticipated work on natural gas and water line replacements, roads, sidewalks, and sewage lines. That new work jacked up the Area 2 infrastructure project from an original cost of more than $13.93 million to $14.79 million, according to Neel-Schaffer estimates.

Neel-Schaffer was the city’s engineer on both projects. The Area 2 infrastructure work was done by Eutah Construction, of Aberdeen, Miss. Vision Construction of Gulfport did the sports complex work.

A change order is necessitated on public projects such as the infrastructure job when additions, corrections, or other changes occur to the work beyond original bid estimates. In the past, some council members have closely questioned change orders and wondered how a low bid from a contractor can keep increasing as jobs progress.

However, council members now are so accustomed to repeated change orders from architects, engineers and contractors that they barely discussed this latest round of cost increases before voting them through. Most of the hurricane reconstruction work has been done with federal funds.

BY: J.R. Welsh

The Sea Coast Echo

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