National News

Error leads to nearly $900,000 surprise expense

Posted June 21, 2018 2:07 p.m. EDT

— Poway must spend nearly $900,000 more on a project to create a dedicated bike lane on Espola Road just months after the City Council approved the plan.

The City Council in January authorized about $1.3 million for a contractor to add a separate, accessible space for bikers, walkers, and horseback riders along a roughly one-mile stretch of the rural road leading to Poway High School.

But the design consulting firm the city hired, Michael Baker International, failed to include the height of a retaining wall that would be part of the project. City staff didn't catch the error before putting it out to bid. That's forcing the city to reconfigure part of the plan, at a total of $866,900.

It includes going from needing about 1,300 square feet of concrete to more than 10,000 - at $80 per square foot.

The City Council is expected to approve the expense at its meeting Tuesday.

"We expect more of ourselves and we should have caught this before it went to bid," said Poway City Manager Tina White.

White said the city has been in contact with Michael Baker International, which has already been paid $140,000 of its $240,000 contract. She said the city is seeking financial remedies.

"We're very disappointed that something considered that fundamental or basic would be missing from the plans," White said.

Multiple spokespeople for Michael Baker International could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

The project has been in the works for more than five years. White says the city has the funds to pay the extra expense without taking from other projects.

Luis Ibarra, who owns a Poway Bicycle and organizes rides on Espola, said many are asking when the project would be finished.

"The bike lane that exists there is pretty limited," he said. "The passability was really challenging, which inconveniences the drivers and the bikers."

Work has already begun and is expected to take 15-17 months to complete.