The city of Everett settled a claim filed by the contractor that built the Grand Ave Park bridge, seen here Sept. 7. (Ryan Berry / Herald file)

The city of Everett settled a claim filed by the contractor that built the Grand Ave Park bridge, seen here Sept. 7. (Ryan Berry / Herald file)

Contractor: Grand Ave. bridge timeline, ‘unique design’ caused delays

The City of Everett settled the claim for $860,000, well under the $5.8 million initially sought by the contractor.

EVERETT — The complexity of the steel truss design and tight time constraints to install the $20 million Grand Avenue Park bridge delayed its completion, according to public records obtained by The Daily Herald.

Last year, a subcontractor, Thompson Metal Fabrication filed a claim against Everett, blaming the city for the delays. Everett recently settled the claim for $860,000. That’s about half the amount sought by subcontractor Thompson Metal Fabrication, and far below an initial claim of $5.8 million.

As part of the settlement reached Aug. 31, the city does not admit to wrongdoing.

“… The city believes that making this settlement is worthwhile considering the costs and uncertainty of litigation,” Public Works Director Ryan Sass said in a statement.

The bridge was built in part to get utilities from the bluff to the waterfront, across both railroad tracks and a four-lane road. It opened to the public in August 2020, almost two years after initially envisioned in the contract’s schedule. LMN Architects, the firm that designed the span, is on the shortlist for the World Architecture Awards bridge category this year.

But as the project progressed issues arose between contractor Interwest Construction and the city, specifically over the timeline slipping and if the contractor was owed more money and time.

According to documents obtained by The Daily Herald through a records request, the initial window to install the bridge was from June through August in 2018. But the bridge’s “unique design and detail” delayed it to 2019, according to the documents.

Further delays, including some related to the pandemic, bumped it into 2020.

In September 2020, the city and the contractor took their issue to a dispute review board.

The city countered Interwest’s claim and said the contractor’s “own actions caused concurrent delays which prevented the bridge from being erected in 2018.” That supposedly included not having an approved erection plan and the contractor’s initial plan to erect it with two cranes that eventually was replaced by a transporter and lifting towers moving the bridge into place in September 2019.

The three-person dispute board found “the project plans are reasonably accurate for typical construction drawings,” but other factors meant there wasn’t enough time to meet the schedule constraints as defined in the contract.

But the city rejected the board’s recommendation, according to claim documents.

Interwest initially filed a $5.8 million claim in April 2021. The contractor wanted compensation for labor and time accrued through the project that it said was because of “deficient design plans” for the steel truss bridge completed by KPFF Consulting Engineers for the city.

Those conclusions were supported in two reports commissioned by Interwest and its law firm Ahlers, Cressman and Sleight.

Everett denied that claim.

In March 2022, Interwest assigned the claim to Thompson Metal Fabrication, the company that made the steel truss bridge, and agreed that any money from it would go to the subcontractor.

Thompson Metal Fabrication sought over $1.6 million. The company had higher costs because of labor and time accrued through 184 requests for information with the city and KPFF Consulting Engineers, according to the claim.

The Everett City Council voted 6-0 to approve the settlement, which resolves all claims, including Interwest’s.

Ben Watanabe: 425-339-3037; bwatanabe@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @benwatanabe.

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