Columbia County to terminate Springlakes project

Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2011 2:00 PM
Last updated 11:47 PM
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Columbia County officials took action Tuesday to end a relationship with a contractor taking too long on a stormwater project in the Martinez neighborhood of Springlakes.

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Work to replace culverts on Sandalwood Drive in Springlakes is reported to be only half-finished, with a deadline to be done by Friday, county officials said.  Jim Blaylock/Staff
Jim Blaylock/Staff
Work to replace culverts on Sandalwood Drive in Springlakes is reported to be only half-finished, with a deadline to be done by Friday, county officials said.

County Water Utility Director Bill Clayton told members of the county Public Works Services Committee he intended to send a notice of termination to Jeffery Harris Trucking to stop work on a culvert replacement project on Sandalwood Drive.

The deadline to finish the project is Friday, but Clayton said only about half of the work is complete.

Harris disagreed. He said Tuesday afternoon that 70 to 75 percent of the work is done, but didn’t speculate on whether he will meet the Friday deadline.

Clayton said Harris or his insurance company has five days to respond to the termination notice.

Harris said that he has received the termination notice and intends to meet with officials Monday. He said he needed time to review his notes on the project before answering questions.

“I just don’t think this type of work is what he’s accustomed to,” Clayton told commissioners regarding Harris.

Another bidding process might not be required to complete the unfinished job.

“We have to get somebody in there pretty fast to finish up what he’s got opened up,” Clayton said. “We can’t rebid that and take all that time. We have roads opened up over there.”

Clayton said the replacement of a culvert on Kestwick Drive, which also was part of this project, might be rebid. He said he doesn’t know yet how the county might proceed.

Following heavy rains, properties upstream of Springlakes on Reed Creek often flood. The $814,000 project is meant to prevent that flooding by widening the culverts and parts of the creek.

Though Harris turned in the lowest bid, he almost didn’t win the project because of misgivings by officials regarding his abilities.

“The issue ... is that in some of the background information we got on him; we didn’t get the best recommendations for his company as far as their ability to perform a job of that magnitude,” Clayton warned commissioners in May.

During an April meeting, the project engineer, W.R. Toole Engineers, recommended that commissioners award the contract to Bean Construction, even though its bid was about $200,000 more than the one submitted by Harris.

“We’re more than qualified to do the job,” Harris said to commissioners in his defense. “It’s a fairly easy job.”

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crkgrdn 11/22/11 - 06:10 pm
Is the project half completed

Is the project half completed or 75% completed? And, now we learn that Toole Engineers did not recommend the company.

In my many years I have realized a few things that keep you out of trouble. Among those realizations is the one that says you buy cheap and you get what you get.

Isn't this why we are in the present situation with Reed Creek's flow? Richmond County look out. Columbia County's commissioners are vying for the attention your given in the news.

woodymeister 11/22/11 - 09:55 pm
Mr. Clayton has attempted to

Mr. Clayton has attempted to throw a curve above. What he failed to mention in the article was that the Friday deadline was one that had already been extended. The original project timeline called for completion in 90 days. After failing to meet that deadline, he awarded them another 60 days for completion. While the problem appears to be with Harris Trucking, I think it is with Mr. Clayton. How on earth does a project this simple get this far off track? Mr. Clayton should be held accountable for this issue, not Harris. Who hired Harris? Our tax dollars were spent on a contractor that was in question as to whether they were capable? I wonder if the commisioners would have ignored a well know engineering firm and made a similar choice if it was in their neighborhood? This debacle is an eyesore and a joke. Lastly, the flooding upstream due to this area being the bottleneck is absolutely ridiculous. $814,000! Merry Christmas Mr. Harris and bah humbug to CC commisioners.

nothin2show4it 11/22/11 - 07:15 pm
Sounds like the good old boy

Sounds like the good old boy network went awry and it couldn't be cover up. What's wrong Ron? Did your third cousin mess you up?

McLeod 11/23/11 - 10:21 am
Lowest bid equals lowest

Lowest bid equals lowest quality of work. Thanks commissioners for looking out for us. You couldn't have done a worse job. The area is a disgrace, and is going to cause more problems than it supposedly fixes.

Riverman1 11/23/11 - 10:42 am
It appears the Commissioners

It appears the Commissioners are danged if they do and danged if they don't.

my.voice 11/23/11 - 02:20 pm
I believe BEAN should be

I believe BEAN should be BEAMS. And title to the story is incorrect; the project is not being cancelled, the contract with this particular contractor is.

Mr Clayton was forced into using this contractor by Ron Cross. Mr Clayton is only doing as he is directed. He appears to be a good director and a trustworthy steward of County resources.

It will be interesting to hear what Ron has to say about this. As a resident, it disturbs me that a recommendation was ignored.

Extensions on contract time happen for numerous reasons; weather, unforeseen conditions, etc. JHT is simply unqualified and now that choice is going to cost the taxpayers. As one of those taxpayers I think Mr Cross should make up the difference.

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