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City of Bremerton's Pacific Avenue work called into question
A pair of citizens have raised several concerns about the quality of construction work on the Pacific Avenue project.
The concerns go beyond $1 million worth of cost overruns and zero-in at ground level on what some describe as shoddy work on a once-in-a-lifetime project that won’t hold up to regular wear-and-tear and inclement weather.
Among the issues that have been documented in dozens of photographs and a walk-through of the project with Bremerton Public Works Director Chal Martin are cracked or spalling concrete; sidewalks that are too shallow or lack the proper gravel foundation outlined in city specifications for satisfactory design; a lack of proper drainage that will lead to pools and puddles in the roadway and gutters; and concrete separation joints that are too close together to other joints, unnecessarily extend into planter beds or are otherwise misplaced.
Another major concern is a step that was added in the front entrance to a business at 701 Pacific Avenue. Kevin Bernt owns the building and operates his business Compressions for Life, which offers CPR classes, out of the storefront.
“Several issues have occurred during this process that are deeply concerning and will affect the community that my building will serve,” Bernt wrote in a Feb. 3 letter to the city. “The ramp that gave access to the front door of the building was removed and replaced by a steep six-inch-curb-type step. This is very concerning: I recently renovated the entire inside of the building to meet every ADA requirement, however now no wheelchairs are capable of gaining access to the building due to the steep curb.”
Bernt also noted that his parking lot was used on a daily basis during the project to stage heavy machinery, trucks and various other vehicles.
“There were multiple times that I had to park on the street and could not park in my own parking lot, because there was no room,” he said. “Due to the fact that heavy machinery was routinely used during the revitalization, the pavement of my parking lot was degraded and heavily damaged.”
Bernt said he was all for downtown revitalization and that is one of the reason he chose to locate in Bremerton instead of Silverdale.
“I wanted to be a part of this process and the improvement of the downtown core,” he said.
In a Feb. 4 memo to Department of Community Development Director Andrea Spencer, building inspector Jeannie Vaughan outlined the decision to remove concrete skirting and instead install the step in the front doorway of Bernt’s business and references an Oct. 30, 2013, meeting at the site.
“Mr. Bernt appeared to understand during the meeting that although he thought his building was accessible for his business when he purchased the building, it truly was not compliant, and the landing step option discussed with Public Works staff was the best option with the most code compliant elements,” Vaughan wrote.
Vaughn has earlier made a similar argument for a pair of stairways in front of homes further north on Pacific that were left in place and jut out into the city’s right-of-way and newly poured sidewalks. Vaughn’s most recent memo does not address Bernt’s concerns about damage to his parking lot or any of the other issues raised by citizens about the quality of work in the rest of the construction corridor.
The litany of concerns were first raised publicly at a Public Works committee last week and again during the city council’s regular business meeting two nights later.
Martin, who oversees Public Works, said the list of concerns and his walk-through of the project area with the citizens that documented them are useful and will be part of a final “punch list” review of the project with contractors.
“In general, our approach is we’re going to address every one of these issues in one way or another,” he said. “Some of the responses I’m anticipating will be, ‘We looked at this and we’re not going to take action.’ ”
Martin said that he has been very impressed as he has closely watched the work progress and said one of the city’s best inspectors is “watching every detail” on a daily basis.
Of the sidewalks appearing to be thinner than four inches in depth and not sitting atop four inches worth of crushed rock, Martin said he saw crushed material going into place and workers then followed up with the use of a hand compactor.
“They look good to me,” Martin said. “I’m convinced we’re doing good work. Right along the edges, the detail might not be quite right.”
In responding affirmatively that the work will indeed be under warranty, Martin also said no one can guarantee that there won’t be issues down the road while standing by the work that has been done.
“I don’t wanna get into some sort of trap here,” he said. “I don’t want to be in this meeting a year from now and have somebody come in and say, ‘You said nothing was gonna happen here.’ Folks, I can’t operate like that. We will do the best that we can. It’s a wonderful project. It’s a big contract and there are a lot of details. The contractor will address these and some of the answers will be, ‘That’s the best we have.’ ”