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ODOT levies fines of $67,200 to Legacy Contracting for 84 days of Sunrise project delays


ODOT's Sunrise project remains on schedule despite the state's ongoing argument with a contractor over $67,200 in fines for an Interstate 205 overpass that was reopened 84 days late.

PHOTO BY: RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - Strawberry Lane, a major east-west thoroughfare for unincorporated Clackamas County, was closed at its crossing of Interstate 205.By building a new 2.5-mile highway from I-205 to 122nd Avenue, the $152.5 million Sunrise project aims to reduce congestion on Highways 224 and 212 between Milwaukie and Damascus.

One aspect of the Sunrise project ($3 million total) raised the Strawberry Lane structure over Interstate 205 by 18 inches to obtain additional vertical clearance for trucks. Over-height freight loads will no longer be able to use 82nd Drive once ODOT's Sunrise project is complete.

ODOT spokesman Don Hamilton said Legacy Contracting was supposed to have finished working on Strawberry Lane by Sept. 3 but took until Nov. 25 to complete it. ODOT and Legacy initially declined to comment on the issues until the Clackamas Review obtained copies of internal correspondence through a public-records request.

Legacy Contracting Assistant Project Manager Chris Rau wrote on Sept. 11 that these delays were actually ODOT's fault. In the formal protest letter, Rau wrote that ODOT directed additional restoration of columns, revised the plan to jack up the overpass, changed the design parameters for the walls, changed the wall drainage requirements, and "added bracing due to existing encasement not being depicted in the plans correctly."

Hamilton responded that ODOT was requiring Legacy to safely complete essential aspects of the project.

"All of these elements are part of the contract," Hamilton said. "Contracts are never complete until they're complete."

Hamilton said that there will be ODOT and Legacy crews working on the Strawberry Lane overpass until sometime in January, but Legacy was in violation for 84 days for not reopening the overpass. Meanwhile, no one could use Strawberry Lane, a major east-west thoroughfare for unincorporated Clackamas County.

"Under the terms of the contract they were obligated to pay ($800 in) charges for each day they failed to complete the project," Hamilton said.

People walking or biking were detoured to Cason Lane during construction, while the shared-use path, located under the overpass west of I-205, was closed from June through October. TriMet's Line 79-Clackamas/Oregon City was detoured onto the 82nd Drive crossing over I-205, removing regular service from bus stops along Oatfield, Webster and Strawberry Lane. To mitigate the effect on riders, TriMet added a temporary route, Line 179-Webster/Oatfield.

Jeff Howell, president of Legacy contracting, said that he didn't want to engage in further "he said, she said" over the issues. Howell said that the $67,200 was deducted from the approximately $1.2 million that ODOT owed Legacy Contracting for its portion of the Strawberry Lane project.

"We'll be seeking reimbursement from the state for the full amount," Howell said.

Any contract disagreement is subject to a series of procedures spelled out in the contract, including formal protest letters.

"We're a long ways from a lawsuit; that's a last resort," Howell said. "It was a complex project there, and, unfortunately, a lot of those issues won't be resolved until the end of the contract."

Howell said that issues with ODOT in the Portland area may lead Legacy Contracting to bid differently for state contracts in the area, but he declined to confirm that future bids would be higher.

"ODOT's a big agency and a lot of offices," Howell said.

ODOT's website says that the next phase of the Sunrise project has been delayed until "spring 2016," but ODOT spokeswoman Susan Hanson said that the phase may not be necessary, and the Sunrise project will still be completed sometime next year. ODOT was hoping to have the project completed by the summer, and Hanson says that the contract (with a different contractor) remains on schedule through June 30 unless the weather this spring is worse than usual.

If necessary, this phase will involve some temporary changes for approximately 30 days: 

1. The Milwaukie Expressway eastbound access to I-205 northbound will be closed temporarily.

2. Southeast 82nd Drive northbound access to I-205 northbound is closed temporarily.

3. Use Southeast 82nd Avenue northbound to Southeast Sunnybrook Blvd. on-ramp to I-205 north.   

More detailed information will be posted on the project website, sunrisejta.org, closer to the start of this phase.