Town Engineer Underestimates Cost of Temporary Bridge by 60%
On October 12, 2017, the Town Council approved an additional $1,234,388 for the Canyon Rd temporary bridge project. A 60% increase just four months after the Town Engineer's earlier cost estimate was approved.
During this special meeting of the council, the Town Engineer (along with his staff and hired consultants) explained the myriad reasons for this million-dollar miss and unpleasant - but not the first unpleasant - surprise we find ourselves enduring. The primary rationalizations were (1) that contractors are "not hungry" as a result of plentiful work resulting from last winter's storms and (2) concrete and other material pricing has increased.
Let's look at some comparable activities for a reality check:
CoCoCounty engineered, bid out, demolished and replaced the washed-out Alhambra Creek bridge during the same timeframe. The engineer's estimate was the same as the bids/actual costs.
During the council meeting, our town's engineering team stated that most everything is coming in significantly higher than estimated, and three specific examples were provided as "proof". Those examples averaged only 15% over the engineers' estimates, not the 60% our small town faces.
A few concerning items to note:
Moraga is unable to accurately estimate the cost of construction, when other public agencies are
Moraga is off by 60% when a similar project, undertaken at the same time, is off by 0%
Town Council didn’t raise the dissimilar underestimates provided by staff only reflecting 15% underestimates rather than the order-of-magnitude-greater 60%
Councilmembers have not publicly acknowledged concern or followed up on the lack of precision and accuracy that seemingly have plagued the town's infrastructure projects