When Northampton County's 290-space parking deck was first built in 1975, its estimated life was 35 to 40 years. Obviously, it had to be fixed. But at a Council Finance Committee yesterday, two engineering firms spent what seemed like 35 to 40 years, trying to justify a $513,767 cost overrun on a $1.7 million project.
"Unforeseen conditions" is the explanation. They apparently had no idea water could do so much damage.
"Water, water, everywhere, and all the boards did shrink. Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink."
Even the Ancient Mariner could have told them water was destroying that parking deck. Two engineering firms nevertheless put on lengthy power point presentations, claiming they were mystified by unforeseen damages.
Once completed, these improvements will extend the life of the garage by 15 to 20 years.
"In concrete restoration projects, you always run into surprises," explained Pennnoni Associates' engineer Matthew Stewart.
"Then you bid it accordingly," responded Council President Ron Angle. "We always get waxed up," he complained. "Whenever there's a government project, we get waxed up."
Exec John Stoffa pointed to the juvenile detention center project, which came in under budget. He proposed using that money to pay for the overruns. But even the normally cheerful Peg Ferraro was visibly angry at the extent of the overrun.
Council vented mostly on Public Works Director Steve DeSalva, who regularly works sixty hour weeks and took responsibility. But he also insisted, "It had to be done."
"Is this the end of the end of the end?" asked Angle. DeSalva promised to come back with a hard figure.