(BIVN) – A sizable change order for consulting work on the Aliʻi Drive Culvert Replacement project caught the eye of the Hawaiʻ County Council recently.
During a January 22 Finance Committee meeting in Kona, Councilmember Tim Richards noticed “a substantial increase as far as what the initial budget was, at 500% percent,” listed in a change order report.
“This project was initiated back in 1998,” explained Public Works Director David Yamamoto, “and the original consulting contract covered basically a preliminary design and planning which included the archaeological and environmental assessments and permits. As it dragged along over the numerous years there are some additions, small additions, to cover the escalation of the costs.”
The County plans to replace the double-cell culvert bridging the Waiaha Drainageway on Ali‘i Drive, adjacent to the Kona Tiki Hotel. The project involves constructing a new bridge structure that has a wider stream flow opening, a longer span and wider lane bridge above. A Draft Environmental Assessment was published in April 2017.
“The substantial increases is attributed to getting the consultant to do the detailed design required, and some additional traffic control plans, as well as some environmental laws that changed,” Yamamoto said. “We have to do further work or ask the consultant to do further work, acquire the necessary permits to proceed with that project.”
“This has been in process for 20 years, and the culvert has yet to be changed? Is that what I’m understanding?” Richards asked. “Wow. You can understand, director, my questioning this… as I can understand we have overruns I can understand environmental stuff but when we have a five hundred percent current level, it sure raises flags.”
$832,023 is being paid to KAI Hawaiʻi, Inc, up from the 1998 contract amount of $160,000.
At the urging of Hilo councilwoman Sue Lee Loy, director Yamamoto explained the Aliʻi Drive Culvert Replacement is a STIP project, and the county’s share will be reimbursed for 80% percent of the total cost.