'We've got a lot of money invested in the project already, and we just want to get the darn thing done.'
West Linn's Cedaroak Boat Ramp reconstruction project continues to run into more trouble, and the City Council voted Dec. 19 to modify the construction contract in the hopes of finishing the ramp by Jan. 13.
The contract modification came at a cost: to fix ongoing settling issues on the riverbed, the total project cost jumped $550,000. As such, a project that was originally budgeted at just over $1.2 million will now cap out at more than $1.7 million.
Yet as Parks and Recreation Director Ken Worcester emphasized to the council, about $300,000 of that additional $550,000 is expected to come from the State Marine Board.
"I've worked with the State Marine Board and have a verbal commitment of about $300,000 and change from them," Worcester said. "Which leaves us about $242,000 for the City to make up."
To do so, West Linn will defer some smaller projects — like playground replacements — that are less of an immediate priority, Worcester said.
"We've got a lot of money invested in the project already, and we just want to get the darn thing done," Worcester said.
The 46-year-old ramp, which is located at the end of Elmran Avenue, has been breaking down for years and has been especially problematic in low tides late in the summer season. In May 2016, the West Linn City Council approved contracts for a project that came out to just about $1.4 million — funded in part by a $200,000 grant from the Oregon State Marine Board. Construction was expected to be completed within the in-water work window of July 1 to Oct. 31.
Yet the project has seen a number of unexpected problems. First, in September, the City dealt with a minor delay of about a week due to a contractor error. More serious issues arose in November, when workers discovered a settling issue on the riverbed in the underwater portion of the new ramp.
By that point, the Oct. 31 deadline to complete in-water work had already passed, but the City applied for a variance and still hoped to finish by the end of the year.
Eventually, it became apparent that the construction contract would need significant modifications.
"A lot of the pre-cast planks and rail system that had gone down into the water (and) make up the majority of the boat ramp during low water situations had settled," Worcester said. "(They) kind of twisted and ruined some of the planks, and dropped into this hole that's out in the riverbed. ... Each plank weighs about 9,000 pounds and the more we put on there, by the time they got it all done it all kind of twisted and settled."
Fixing the problem, Worcester said, involved taking everything back out of the water and adding around 2,400 tons of rock, then re-bedding and creating a new rail system.
"We think we've got the solution, and now it's a matter of putting some money in it to get it fixed," Worcester said.
The council voted unanimously to approve the contract, but not without some reservations. City Councilor Bob Martin, for his part, asked if the City would be covered in the event that the ramp isn't completed by Jan. 13.
"If we can't complete the work by the time the permits tell us we have to be out of the water (Jan. 13), then that's a whole other set of issues we'd take on, but we've got protections in place to keep us out of trouble," Worcester said. "We would have to probably cancel the contract, it goes back out to bid, there's a bunch of things that would happen."
But Worcester added that completing the project by Jan. 13 was "doable."
"There's been a lot of progress made," he said. "The new rails and pre-cast planks have already been made and are ready to be installed."
As of Dec. 28, that prognosis hadn't changed.
"We're just moving it along," Worcester said.