MOUNT DESERT — The job of shoring up the Steamboat Wharf Road retaining wall in Seal Harbor and repairing the pedestrian boardwalk atop the wall will be delayed for six months because the contractor missed the Nov. 13 completion date called for in the contract.
The structural defects the project will address, according to Public Works Director Tony Smith, are “a failing stone wall in two places” and corrosion of the boardwalk’s steel supports.
Bowman Constructors of Newport, which submitted the low bid of $222,500, was awarded the contract for the project in August. Smith said at the time that he expected work to begin in mid-September.
He told the Board of Selectmen Monday night that Bowman has done “little or no work.”
Hedefine Engineering & Design of Ellsworth is overseeing the project for the town. Company President Eero Hedefine sent a letter to Brian Bowman, co-owner and vice president of Bowman Constructors, on Nov. 30 in which he said the town was “exceptionally disappointed with the fact that the schedule and contract times have been exceeded without any correspondence, updates or acknowledgment of the schedule slipping.”
Hedefine told Bowman that in October and November, “We repeatedly tried to contact your office to obtain information on when the work would be started and completed.”
He said it wasn’t until mid-November that he was told work at the site would begin around Nov. 30 and that steel would be delivered around Dec. 15.
That would be too late for this year, Hedefine told Bowman in the letter. He said the town had wanted the job finished by Nov. 13 because hot-mix asphalt, which is needed to resurface the road, is not available later in the season and because of “safety concerns on the roadway related to plowing, cars and pedestrians.”
Therefore, Hedefine said, the town does not want any work done during the winter.
“They are directing you to mobilize for on-site work as early as weather conditions will allow in mid-March to April,” he told Bowman. “They are also directing you to be completely finished … no later than May 15.”
Hedefine said the town would not accept any cost increases due to the schedule change and that any extra expense that Hedefine Engineering might incur as a result of the change would be deducted from the town’s payment to Bowman Constructors.
“We do not anticipate additional costs due to this schedule change at this time; however [the town] wishes to make it explicitly clear that if such costs arise, they will be considered your responsibility,” Hedefine told Bowman.
Bowman told the Islander on Tuesday that the delay in starting the project was the result of a change in how the corrosion of the boardwalk’s steel supports will be addressed.
“The original concept was to do sandblasting and re-painting,” he said. “We proposed a better and cheaper solution.”
He said that solution is to replace the corroded supports with hot-dip galvanized steel. The galvanizing process involves immersing fabricated steel in molten zinc. The result is a coating that resists corrosion.
Bowman said it had taken longer than expected to get the hot-dip galvanized steel.
“It’s just a matter of getting the proper steel on site so we could do it the right way,” he said. “The finished product is going to be much better.”
Mount Desert Selectman Matt Hart said at Monday night’s meeting, “What’s more troubling to me than the holdup is the lack of communication.”