Jan. 22 project update

Posted on Jan 22 2015 1:27 PM
It is not uncommon for disputes to arise between owners and contractors during a construction project. One way to resolve disagreements is through a dispute review board. The review board, a panel of three experts chosen by the parties jointly, reviews the facts of a dispute and makes recommendations to the owner and contractor. The SR 99 Tunnel Project contract between WSDOT and Seattle Tunnel Partners established a dispute review board.
In 2013, the board heard arguments related to STP’s request for a change order for work associated with strengthening the Alaskan Way Viaduct in advance of tunneling under it. WSDOT denied this request and the board issued a recommendation that was consistent with WSDOT’s denial. STP may pursue reconsideration, which is allowed under the contract.
In late 2012, Seattle Tunnel Partners requested a change order for an alleged differing site condition in the launch pit at the south portal. STP’s request was for $20 million. WSDOT rejected this request. Last year, both WSDOT and STP agreed to ask the board to make a recommendation and the matter was heard in October.
To clarify, this dispute is related to a differing site condition experienced while building the launch pit; it is not related to the stoppage of the tunneling machine or recent settlement near the access pit. And, there are funds set aside within the existing project budget to deal with differing site conditions.
On Jan. 16, the board submitted its recommendation, which stated in part that a “differing site condition was encountered in the glacial soils and that STP is entitled to relief” to the extent it incurred costs or delays because of that condition. The board did not determine what costs or delays were caused by the differing site condition it identified. STP promptly sent a letter accepting the board’s recommendation.
We are still reviewing the board’s recommendation. As a reminder, the board’s recommendations are just that, recommendations. If WSDOT or STP disagrees with a recommendation, either party can ask for reconsideration or simply move to the next process allowed under the contract. The next steps will be determined after our analysis is completed.