I am writing to respond to the article about the Nevada Dept. of Transportation award of the contract to finish the Galena Creek Bridge, part of the Interstate 580 freeway extension between Reno and Carson City, Nevada. Edward Kraemer and Sons Inc. was the contractor on the original contract to build the bridge. In early 2005, Kraemer notified NDOT of what we believed to be significant problems with wind loadings used to design the steel pilot truss. EKS believed the truss, as designed by NDOT, was likely to fail during erection under certain predictable wind conditions due to deficient member design.
In our opinion, NDOT's engineers appeared to have agreed that the truss required strengthening when NDOT issued two change orders to EKS that attempted to strengthen the pilot truss. NDOT later rescinded the change orders after EKS provided pricing, arguing that truss repairs were essentially unnecessary or, at the very least, EKS' problem to solve. Substantial delays to the critical path arose after disagreements over the effectiveness of the truss were not resolved by the engineer of record. EKS captured the cost of these delays in a claim submitted to NDOT in April 2005.
Following submission and over a year after EKS first brought its concerns to the department, EKS and NDOT entered into a Mutual No-Fault Termination Agreement that terminated EKS' original $79.5-million contract. The publicly available agreement states that the basis for the mutually agreed-upon termination are "technical disagreements" over the original design of the steel pilot truss, not workmanship issues as NDOT appeared to imply.
NDOT Director Jeff Fontaine is quoted: "Kraemer had a lot of concrete to redo and their truss needed to be prefabricated." The implication of this statement is that NDOT terminated EKS due to faulty concrete issues and fabrication issues. The fact is that all concrete placed to date was within specified requirements. Some concrete rework was required throughout the project, but this was completed by EKS at its own cost, months prior to the termination agreement. The contract was terminated due to the technical disagreement over NDOT's original design. It is extremely disappointing that NDOT made these statements, as quality of work was not the reason for the no-fault termination.
In the article, the statement is made that the bridge was re-bid using the "same cast-in place pilot truss." It must be noted that major modifications from the original design were included in bid documents on the next contract. Design changes made to connections, laterals, and chord members of the pilot truss followed closely the recommendations provided by EKS and its consultants.
The article also indicated that the project "has been re-bid after the original contractor walked off the job." EKS was shut down from critical path work due to NDOT's design issues. At no time did EKS walk off the job. All work continued through to completion as detailed in the No-Fault Termination Agreement.
Considering that many of the design issues were corrected by NDOT prior to re-issuance of the contract, EKS believes that our efforts in communicating problems were ultimately successful. We are disappointed that NDOT has mischaracterized the reasons for the no-fault termination and subsequent increases in costs.