County to pay $75K for YVRA

General contractor settlement approved

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— Routt County will pay a $75,000 settlement to the general contractor for the expansion project at Yampa Valley Regional Airport in Hayden. The deal essentially will close the books on a construction process hindered by delays before finally being completed earlier this month.

The Routt County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday approved the settlement, which was prepared by county attorney John Merrill and releases both TCD and Routt County from future claims regarding the $5.5 million contract for the airport's terminal expansion. In the agreement, Merrill listed several claims by TCD against the county, including "delays due to unforeseen conditions, inadequate plans (and) inadequate direction." The agreement also states the "county warrants : no other issues or deficiencies in the performance of the project by TCD."

"The county is not admitting anything, and TCD is not admitting anything," Merrill said about the construction process airport officials had hoped would be completed by Dec. 5, 2006, in time for direct ski season flights. The expansion fell behind schedule because of issues including difficult soil conditions.

"If there are unforeseen conditions that cause delay on part of the contractor, they're entitled compensation - we never disputed that," Merrill said. "This is a very small amount to pay to settle a project of this size."

The settlement agreement was reached during a Feb. 19 negotiation between county officials and TCD, which has offices in Steamboat Springs and Breckenridge.

The agreement avoids a hearing of claims TCD filed with the American Arbitration Association. The hearing had been scheduled to begin June 19.

Merrill said the $75,000 payment amounts to less than 1.5 percent of the contract of about $5.5 million between the county and TCD, a percentage he described as "next to nothing."

Local construction administrators confirmed paying settlements in addition to a contract's bid price is a common occurrence.

"Any project under 5 percent is great," said Heather McLaughlin, senior engineer for the county's Road and Bridge Department. "That's just how construction works."

"All projects will typically carry a contingency for what are considered to be unknowns," echoed Ed MacArthur, owner of Native Excavating in Steamboat. "Most contracts that we bid on will have a 5 percent contingency in the budget, so I would say if the project comes in within 1 1/2 percent of the final (bid price), that typically would be a successful project."

County officials have praised the completed terminal expansion, regardless of the delays.

Airport manager Dave Ruppel said only minor issues remain with the remodeled terminal. One requirement is improvements to the terminal's fire sprinkler system, which has experienced delays connecting to Hayden's water supply and is not yet approved by the West Routt Fire District.

"I anticipate that we'll have an electrical solution for that by next week," Ruppel said, adding that other "touch-up" items will be finalized "in a month or so."

Airport officials plan to host a grand opening of the terminal expansion in March.

- To reach Mike Lawrence, call 871-4203

or e-mail mlawrence@steamboatpilot.com

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