Contractor, NDOT part ways over Galena Creek bridge
CARSON CITY – The contractor building the Galena Creek Bridge, part of the freeway connecting Reno and Carson City, has decided to pull out because of a disagreement over whether the structure can be safely built.
The Nevada Department of Transportation and Edward Kraemer & Sons reached agreement this week to mutually end the $80 million contract. The company has already completed a majority of the work on three of the four bridges in the I-580 freeway project, and has been paid a total of $46 million.
But engineers for the Phoenix, Ariz., contractor disagree with NDOT engineers over whether the span across Galena Creek in Pleasant Valley can be safely erected given the wind conditions in that area. NDOT Director Jeff Fontaine said it’s not a question of whether the bridge would be safe once up and completed. He said the disagreement centers on wind loading during the process of putting up the arched steel truss that will eventually support the roadbed.
“There’s no question by either party about the integrity or design of the actual bridge itself,” he said. “Once that arch closes, it’s fine.”
Michael Fischer, CEO of construction for Kraemer & Sons, said the company has completed the three smaller bridges and a large portion of work on the Galena Creek bridge. He said company officials and NDOT jointly agreed to terminate the contract.
“EKS and NDOT continue to have technical disagreements over construction of the Galena Creek Bridge that necessitate this agreement,” Fischer said in a prepared statement.
Fontaine said the plan is to build the huge arched truss from both ends of the bridge, raise it up and join the two sections together at the top.
“What we’ve got here is a very highly technical disagreement between Ph.D. engineers,” said Fontaine. “The contractors are saying right at the point where they’ve got it pretty much constructed but not connected at the top, there’s a period of vulnerability. We’ve hired consultants. We’ve hired wind experts, and they believe the design is adequate.
“I guess on their side they’ve got consultants who argue otherwise. We could not get past the impasse over this highly technical issue, so we decided the best option to keep construction going was to end the contract with Kraemer.”
When completed, the bridge will be the largest ever constructed by NDOT – 1,719 feet long and 302 feet above Galena Creek at its center.
It is the biggest single component in the I-580 project, which will provide a four-lane freeway all the way from Reno to Carson City by 2010.
Fontaine said NDOT is already preparing bids to go out and hopes to have a new contractor on the job this summer. He said they are also looking at other options, such as combining the bridge contract with the contract to actually build the roadway from Mount Rose Highway to the north end of Washoe Valley.
He said the contract is already 426 days behind schedule, but that some of that time could be made up by combining it with that second phase.
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