Monday, September 3, 2012

Re-repairs Approved for Bellevue

Newport this week reports the title above on the front page of Newport this week on the Thursday 30 August 2012 issue.

Interestingly, Google cannot find the report online. We can find almost everything from that issue except this one article.

So I can only offer the print issue as attribution, available at your corner NTW stand (and I've kept a copy).

Perhaps Gunga Din can find it... (He's a local Googler: you're a better Googler than I, Gunga Din)...

Why does this smell fishy? Is it merely the striper season? or is it something else?

The following statements from the printed article are presented for your consideration:

+ The City Council voted to approve a $428,000 project to repair the faulty repairs to Bellevue Avenue performed less than six years ago.

I cycle and run that route and confirm that it was a thoroughly shoddy job. The concrete is dissolving in the salt and rain, the intersectional caulking is ripping out. And the storm grates are dangerous (see below. Oh! and who built the crumbling curbs for the America's Cup median along Bannister's and Bowen's Wharf? But carry on...)

A total mess.

+ The original job cost $500,000 and was performed by Aetna Bridge Company.

+ The new contract bid has been won by... (drum roll... envelope please...): Aetna Bridge Company.

Hooray, hooray! Who at Aetna Bridge Company knows someone who knows someone who graduated from Rogers High School?

(interestingly, this little factoid is not reported in the print edition until page NINE... Is someone leaning on Tom Shevlin? But I digress.)

"Never mind", say the City Council (bar one member): "trust me":

+ It wasn't Aetna's fault. The bid specifications were at fault.

+ The City Manager (who, to her credit, was NOT a part of this fiasco), Charlie Duncan, and others "have confidence" that the specifications have been correctly stated this time.

Oh well, alright, let's all just get along. Hugfest, please.


Right. Both Ms. Howington and Charlie are civil engineers, right?



Wrong on ALL counts.

For my detractors (of which there are a few and from whom I've heard before):

Look: This is not a matter of "getting along" or "being nice". This is a matter of half a million dollars of OUR, make that YOUR, money going down the drain and yet another half million ABOUT to go down the drain with no discernible return. Have you any clue of what half a million dollars of YOUR money could buy if you had been allowed to keep it??? Wake up!!

I could "get along" quite happily on half a million of OUR dollars. But consider the following:

1. I only trust people so far as to be "confident" that they will follow the money:

    + How about a THIRD PARTY (NOT City) review by licensed civil engineers (I am NOT one) to review the bid package and ENSURE that the specs are indeed correct, THIS time.

    + I am certain you can find several such engineers in the area who would gladly spend a week or so doing just that for $10-$15K...

    + Indeed, it doesn't really take a civil engineer, just an inquiring mind. See point 4. below.

2. It is going to cost almost as much the second time around as it did the first time: once fooled, twice foolish, as my grandmother taught me:

How can ANYONE conscience giving a second contract almost as big as the first to the perpetrator of the first, to fix the problems of the first? Certainly, how could anyone conscience doing so without due diligence, third party analysis, and 360 degree review??? Does anyone doubt what other good could be done with another half a million dollars of OUR money? Aetna will soon be laughing all the way to the bank. What goons. Look:

    a. If Aetna were so lily-white, they would have recognized that the specifications were inadequate. If they didn't then they were incompetent. And shouldn't be granted the correctional contract. They'll just screw it up again. (And never mind the City's engineering staff's incompetence for having so specified in the first place...)

    b. If Aetna did so recognize and had had any integrity they would have so informed the City.

        i. If
Aetna did recognize the inadequacy and did not inform the City then I maintain that they were criminally negligent and predatory.

        ii. If
Aetna did so inform the City and some City official said "shut up and do it anyhow" then that official is criminally negligent.

3. So any way you cut it, someone was either incompetent or criminally negligent or both and should be made to pay. Which was it, hmmm?

    a. Aetna did not recognize the inadequacy: ergo, incompetent.

    b. Aetna recognized the inadequacy, did not inform the City: ergo criminally negligent and predatory.

    c. Aetna recognized the inadequacy and informed the City: Responsible, but situation beyond their control.
    Now the City is culpable. Whom did Aetna inform?

    d. City was informed and did nothing: ergo: incompetent and criminally negligent. Whom did Aetna inform?

    e. City was informed and told Aetna to shut up and carry on. Now really criminally negligent. Whom did Aetna inform?

We can carry on with the last two points much much further. But at the end of the day, Whom did Aetna inform, and if not why not?

So the bottom line is that the Council should not be allowed to slither out with a limp "oh, well, we screwed up" (for half a million of OUR dollars) and then blow away yet another half mil (of OUR dollars) doing the same stupid thing all over again with the same incompetent or dishonest or both perpetrator.

(Reminds me of the old joke about faulty brakes and the software engineer: push the car back up the hill and see if it happens again...)

Good on Kate Leonard for trying to fight it. Hopefully the above gives more ammunition.


Now, going forward:
4. Paybacks are hell: Just specifically what were the original specifications that were in error, and how have they changed this time and why? What other changes were made, and why, and what changes were NOT made, and why not? Someone (who was the city's lead engineer on the project? Ms. Forgue?) should be squirming and doing a lot of explaining.

5. I also understand "Engineering Changes" and the costs they incur, but this time around, would you please include a specification that the storm grates be installed with their slots orthogonal to the direction of travel and be rectangular instead of square, to prevent subsequent incorrect reinstallation by drain maintenance crews?

As it is, they are a square and subsequently a hodgepodge of correct (orthogonal to the direction of travel) and incorrect (in line with the direction of travel) installation, resulting in a biker having to swerve into the traffic lane to avoid them or risk having his front wheel jammed in the grate.

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