By Brian Yogodzinski
On May 7th, a town hall meeting was held at Stoneybrook that provided an update of the South Alafaya Trail widening project. The optimistic view portrayed by the County for all new lanes opening in April 2014, was not embraced by everyone. The officials associated with the project are holding to the position that discoveries of utilities not corresponding to existing drawings have resulted in delays to the project.
The County noted that utilities were added in phases as the communities of Eastwood, Stoneybrook, and Avalon Park were constructed. The drawings for these utilities were used in the design of the widening project. As project work started, utilities were found not to be in locations note on those drawings. Those non-compliances caused project delays.
There are root causes that can be attributed to the drawing non-conformances. Let’s consider the process. To perform civil work, drawings must be submitted to the County for approval prior to work commencing. Once work is initiated, the County monitors work for compliance. This compliance is not only to the drawings but also to applicable codes and standards. The first question that surfaces is that if the County is monitoring the work, why didn’t the work match the final drawings? Typically work of this nature deviates some from the drawings and the organization performing the work creates final drawings know as as-built drawings. There appears to be non-compliance in the process of creating as-built drawings. The second question is why didn’t the Country obtain accurate as-built drawings? By monitoring the work, they should be aware of any deviations and be able to note that the as-built drawings were inaccurate and requested corrections to the drawings.
Knowing that utilities were installed in multiple phases by multiple contractors indicates an increased probability that the utilities may not match the drawings. This was a known risk that did not receive the appropriate attention. The County’s position is correct that it is not cost effective for all of the utilities to be exposed prior to the design of the project. On the other hand some additional investigation beyond what was done could have been useful to help establish accuracy of the as-built drawings and input this in to the project timeline. If there was any doubt of the accuracy of the information, at a minimum the project timeline should have had some margin allocated.
When the northbound traffic is temporarily moved over to the newly paved surfaces, additional utilities will be installed in the region of the old traffic lanes. It is not clear if additional delays will occur. Only time can validate the optimism of the County’s April 2014 estimate.
There does not appear to be corrective action of root causes in the process. Not much can be done for the current situation as the damage to the project schedule has already occurred but lessons learned could be applied to help future projects. Final drawings should be submitted that are accurate. The County must be the gatekeeper to ensure the drawings are accurate. They take ownership at project closure which includes ownership of the completed project and the project records. To ensure accurate information, the County can document information gained while they monitoring the progress of projects. This enables them to determine if the final drawings are accurate. If the drawings submitted after a project is completed are not accurate, the drawings should be returned to the contractor for revision. The details of the current process are not known but if the process is following the proposed described here, the process is not working properly.
It takes time to purge all of the inaccurate information. If there is any doubt as to the accuracy of the information, additional effort should be applied during the design phase of a project to validate the information and also account for possible disruptive situations. This would help future projects complete on time and within budget.
Brian Yogodzinski is a Mechanical Engineer from North Carolina State University with 25 years of experience, primarily in the power generation business. During that time he became a specialist in the area of Transportation Engineering for the movement of over-dimensional and over-weight components such as power plant generators, combustion turbines, and steam turbines, with typical components ranging from 110,000 pounds to 1,000,000 pounds. He has extensive experience working with state and local authorities to ensure regulation compliances and safe transit of these commodities in the public domain. He currently works for a firm that builds equipment for and constructs power plants.