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Rehoboth to set change-order policy for outfall project

Residents can expect to hear steady hum from ocean work
November 7, 2017

Wary of running into problems that arose during construction of Rehoboth’s new City Hall, the Rehoboth Beach commissioners agreed to establish thresholds for approving changes to the $52.5 million ocean outfall.

The commissioners are considering a policy that states that City Manager Sharon Lynn would have the authority to approve all emergency change orders up to $300,000. Non-emergency change orders would have a threshold of up to $100,000.

Any changes of $100,000 or more would be overseen by state officials because the state is financing the project, and any changes that are more than 10 percent of the contract value would come under scrutiny from Sussex County, which has a 42 percent stake in the project. Rehoboth has a contract with the county to treat wastewater from neighboring Dewey Beach, Henlopen Acres and North Shores.

Kelvin George, project manager for engineers GHD, said the first two change orders, which were approved by the city, have already been received and are good news for the city.

George said the first change order is a $1.34 million credit from contractor Manson Construction. The city got money back, George said, for changes to the construction method, including using concrete mattresses to cover the pipe instead of rock, and changing the depth of the trench where the outfall pipe will go. Originally, he said, the pipe was to go from 11 feet deep to 7 feet. Changing the depth alone saved the city $100,000, George said, because Manson will not have to dig as deep or as wide as the originally planned. 

A second change order modifies the diffuser, which will disperse treated effluent into the ocean. That change saved the city an additional $600,000, George said. With the two changes, the city has lowered the cost of the contract by nearly $2 million. Manson’s original contract was for $27 million. Both change orders were unanimously approved by the commissioners.

Change orders became a focus of attention during construction of City Hall, when nearly $2 million in changes were charged to the city. While city officials have said the ocean outfall project has fewer moving parts, commissioners have been wary of running into change orders that cause cost overruns. The city commissioners discussed having a special meeting to approve a policy establishing a threshold for change orders on the outfall project, although no date has been announced.

As for outfall construction, Lynn said construction on the force main, the pipe that will take treated effluent from the wastewater treatment plant to the ocean outfall site, is underway and has moved from the plant to near State Road. As the work moves to State Road, Lynn said, traffic will be maintained around the construction zone.

Contractor A-Del Construction is also installing a new water main along Henlopen Avenue, ahead of installing the force main. Lynn said this work has moved slowly, partly because of weather and because of the labor-intensive nature of the work. Water has been shut off in sections to tie mains together along the route. 

Pipe and construction materials for the outfall have been received by outfall contractor Manson Construction, Lynn said. Piping is being fused together at the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control facility at Roosevelt Inlet in Lewes. Lynn said pipes will be put on pontoons and transported to the breakwater off Cape Henlopen for storage until the pipes are ready to be installed. City spokeswoman Krys Johnson said the pipes will be anchored down so that they float in the water until needed.

Residents to hear steady hum of progress

As the project begins to hum along, residents of Rehoboth can expect to hear a steady hum for the next six to eight weeks.

On Nov. 3, people in Rehoboth could hear a steady pounding noise from the outfall construction site on Deauville Beach. According to GHD resident inspector Sam Jung, the noise came from installation of conductor casing that secures space where the outfall pipe will be drilled in. Jung said the casing helps keep the sand from caving in as the hole is drilled. The first 50 feet of drilling took place without noise, he said, but as the drilling went farther down, contractors encountered harder sand, resulting in a pounding sound. 

That led Rehoboth commissioners to become curious about what other noise will emanate from the construction site that residents should be aware of.

Jung said as the outfall pipe is installed, residents may hear the sound of drilling and pushing, in the form of a steady hum coming from generators. The sound will emanate six days a week, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for the next six to eight weeks. Jung said if the weather cooperates, contractors could be finished sooner.

When questioned by the commissioners, Jung was apologetic about the inconvenience, but he said contractor Manson Construction of Seattle is under the gun to get the ocean work finished by the end of March. At that point, environmental regulations mandate Manson be out of the area, and the firm could face fines if it is not, Jung said. 

“We need to get this done, the sooner the better,” he said. 

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