Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Hard harbor basin remains an issue for contractor

Pacific Pile & Marine retracts second claim


December 21, 2017

The Small Boat Harbor contractor responded this week to PND Engineers’ rebuff of their claim that the harbor dredge basin was harder than described in the project’s bid documents.

Pacific Pile & Marine first notified the borough in July of differing site conditions in the harbor basin after experiencing dredging delays. They estimated additional labor and equipment costs at about $1.1 million.

In 2013, PND analyzed the dredge basin for a geotechnical report that was used to determine the project’s expense.

Pacific Pile & Marine collected samples for testing on Aug. 11 from an area in the southwest corner of the dredge basin near the beach after the contractor dredged the bulk of the harbor. Pacific Pile & Marine hired geotechnical consulting firm C.W. Felice to assess the dredge materials. The testing company reported the strength of the bulk samples was similar to concrete, rather than soil.

The company wrote in a report that the material weighed more than PND reported in contract documents and that the compression strength of the material was “2.5 to 13 times higher” than described in the contract documents.

PND vice-president Dick Somerville questioned the use of a pocket penetrometer to test the compressive strength of the samples, the application of which “is only valid for fine-grained soils (silts and clays), which the samples obtained by (Pile & Marine) are not,” Somerville wrote to Pacific Pile & Marine project manager Andrew Romine last month.

Somerville also said the sample size was too small to accurately describe the entire harbor basin, and he questioned the manner in which materials were transported and whether or not equipment breakdowns unrelated to dredging caused delays.

In a Dec. 15 letter to PND Engineers and the Haines Borough, Romine said the sample materials were consistent throughout the dredging areas.

“Our daily dredge logs indicate that the average daily production was consistent between areas…which would indicate that the materials dredged were similar in nature,” Romine said.

Regarding the material’s proper shipping methods, Romine cited email evidence used to show they were sealed and handled properly for and during transport.

“I don’t have any photos, but I taped the sh*t out of those coolers,” Romine wrote in an email to Pacific Pile and Marine project engineer Stuart Willis when Willis asked if he had photos of the materials. “The seam was taped around multiple times and additional tape was placed around the cooler to prevent the lid from moving at all. The goal was to prevent any moisture from escaping from the samples.”

In his Dec. 15 letter to PND Romine also said “Styrofoam cooler pieces were broken and used to secure the sample inside the coolers to help prevent movement.”

Romine told Somerville, “I do want to reiterate, as stated in the letter, that we would like the opportunity to meet with you and the Haines Borough regarding this matter. We think it would be beneficial for all of us to discuss this in person.”

In November, Pacific Pile & Marine submitted a second claim of differing site conditions where it’s driving pilings for the steel wall wave barrier. The company retracted that claim Monday.


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