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Seattle Times letters to the editor

January 26, 2014 at 6:02 AM

Bertha: WSDOT bore responsibility for removing obstructions

As a retired public works official with the City of Bellevue, I have followed with great interest the conundrum surrounding Bertha, the stuck tunnel boring machine [“Rock was just the right size to get stuck in Bertha,” The Today File, Jan. 22].

In my experience, one of the chief responsibilities of a lead agency, WSDOT in this case, is to determine the location of obstructions to the proposed work and arranging for their removal or accommodation. Merely noting something on a set of plans does not meet this responsibility. This is not due diligence.

Something minor might be considered incidental. Anything major requires a pay item for the contractor and a plan of what to do. Or, an action by the agency in anticipation to clear the obstruction (e.g. relocate the water main).

“Changed conditions”, an industry term for significant work effort not identified in the project plans and specs, are compensable to the contractor, usually on a time and materials basis.

Someone has to pay.

Clark Douglas, Mount Vernon

Comments | More in Transportation | Topics: Bertha, Clark Douglas, highway 99

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