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Power bollards come at high cost for taxpayers

When Port Orchard Independent columnist Adele Ferguson raised a red flag about the power bollards for the Port of Bremerton’s marina expansion project in August (“In defense of home-grown bollards,” Aug. 15), it went largely unnoticed except by a few people with intimate knowledge of the project.

A subsequent investigation, however, has revealed that the change order will cost the region’s taxpayers almost $391,000 for design modifications to the bollards — which will now be supplied by Port Orchard-based Leader International rather than the manufacturer specified in the original contract documents.

According to a letter sent to the Port of Bremerton commissioners by The Will-Burt Co., whose bollards were replaced by the Leader International product, the change is criticized as a mistake for “both the taxpayer and the project.”

According to Port of Bremer-ton Commissioner Mary Ann Huntington, the change in power bollard design was “driven by the desire to establish continuity in architectural look and feel between what the city of Bremerton has put into place along the Bremerton boardwalk and the new marina.

“The city has designed and implemented a unique aesthetic impression on the boardwalk that is very popular,” Huntington said. “It identifies the place as being unique and the appearance makes a very positive impression. The port concluded, with encouragement from the city of Bremerton, that it would be of long-term importance to continue this design throughout the marina. A change order request was placed with American Construction our general contractor, a price was provided and a change order was approved.”

That change order was green-lighted by Port of Bremerton CEO Ken Attebery on Feb. 27 and was signed by project engineer Robert Henry of Art Anderson and Associates of Bremerton, and by Steven Brannon, president of American Construction Co., the general contractor for the project.

In recommending the change, Henry included a hand-written note about the new bollards from Leader International.

“Pedestal assembly shall be approved, i.e. listed or labeled, by an accredited electrical product-testing laboratory that has a current registration with the state of Washington, prior to installation. This process shall conform to NEC and WAC requirements, including but not limited to UL 231 power outlets,” Henry wrote.

Those concerns were echoed by Brannon in a letter to Port of Bremerton Director of Marine Facilities Steve Slaton dated March 5.

“(N)either ourselves nor our electrical subcontractor, High Mountain, can guarantee that this will occur,” Brannon wrote. “If it does not, then the port will accept the pedestal assemblies without such listing or label, because the port is the one directing the change.”

Huntington said last week the new bollards have completed independent laboratory testing and have been accepted by the port’s project engineer of record.

“The testing and certification was part of the price of the bollards,” she said.

The change in power bollards hasn’t put the project behind schedule and Huntington said the contractor still believes it will done on time.

“We are pleased with the progress of the new marina and look forward to its opening in the spring,” she said.

Correspondence on April 9 between port attorney Gordon Walgren and an attorney representing the Will-Burt Co. discussed the power pedestals and the timing of the change order.

“On Feb. 2 of this year, after the contract for the expansion was awarded to American Construction Co., Steve Slaton warned the port commissioners that certain change orders would require immediate turn-around time,” the letter read.

Slaton requested that Attebery be given the authority to issue change orders, the letter continued.

“Shortly after the port granted this authority, a change order was issued to substitute the Ensign II with a new product manufactured by Leader International Co.,” it read.

The Will-Burt Co. responded with serious concerns about the change order.

“First, it is our understanding that the newly manufactured Leader product costs up to three times as much as the proven Will-Burt product,” a letter from the company stated. “Second, it seems unlikely that this change required the immediate turn-around mentioned by Mr. Slaton, and that a discussion of the change to a more expensive, unproven product.”

Not only are there cost issues, but the power pedestal is “very likely Leader’s first foray into the marian lighting and electrical utility market,” the letter said. “Further, since the product proposed by Leader does not yet exist, there can be no assurance that the product will even be UL certified, let alone approved by the National Fire Protection Association.”

In a reply dated May 10, port attorney Walgren insisted the port would not reconsider its decision.

“The selection of the Leader International power bollards was made only after careful consideration of all issues,” Walgren wrote. “A major factor determining this selection was a request from the city of Bremerton that our bollards confirm to design of lighting components currently used by the city. Port staff implemented this request in accordance with established guidelines for executing project change orders.”

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