Contractor’s mistake sinks city monies

The city of San Mateo wants its money back from a contractor whose mistake nearly left plans for a Bay marshes boardwalk sinking in the mud.

Last year, a contractor was hired to build an $800,000, 340-foot boardwalk in the marshes near Tidelands Park south of Coyote Point, complete with benches and interpretive signs, as part of the city’s shoreline master plan project. In November, the contractor started driving in 20-foot concrete piles to support the boardwalk.

It didn’t take long to figure out there was a problem, said Dennis Frank, a landscape architect for the city.

“They were too short,” he said. “They were going in real easy. Just the weight of the hammer was pushing those piles in.”

Worried that the piles would keep sinking, officials spoke to their engineering subcontractor, Smith-Emery Geoservices, who said the mud simply needed to set for a while and then the piles would be stable. But one week later, when weight was again set on the piles, they sank even farther into the marsh.

A review of the plans revealed an important mistake: The piles should have been 60 feet, not 20 feet, Frank said. Officials from Smith-Emery said they had miscalculated, Frank said. He said the error put the city into a bind since state and federal agencies had set a Jan. 29 deadline for the boardwalks foundation to minimize impact to the marsh’s wildlife.

The City Council worked quickly to approve a $201,600 change-order for 60-foot steel piles, which were driven into the marsh last year.

City Attorney Shawn Mason didn’t want to comment on the situation in case it results in litigation, but he said once the project is completed, he will sit down with Smith-Emery representatives and ask them to reimburse the city for the extra costs. If necessary, he said, the city would consider going to court.

Last month, the rest of the foundation was completed, Frank said. The boardwalk should be completed by June, he said.

Smith-Emery Manager Patrick Morrison</a> declined to comment.

kworth@examiner.com

Bay Area NewsLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Dr. Grant Colfax, director of the San Francisco Department of Public Health. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SF moves into purple tier, triggering curfew and business shutdowns

San Francisco moved into the state’s purple COVID-19 tier Saturday, requiring The… Continue reading

San Francisco lacks housing data that would let it track rental vacancies and prices. New legislation is seeking to change that.<ins> (Photo by Joel Angel Jurez/2016 Special to S.F. Examiner)</ins>
Landlords blast proposal to require annual report on rentals as invasion of privacy

Housing inventory could give city better data on housing vacancies, affordability

University of San Francisco head coach Todd Golden coaches his team on defense during a 2019 gameat War Memorial Gymnasium on the campus of the University of San Francisco. (Ryan Gorcey / S.F. Examiner)
Stunner in Bubbleville: USF upsets fourth-ranked Virginia

Less than 48 hours removed from a loss to a feeble UMass… Continue reading

Health care workers would be the first group in the state to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. (Go Nakamura/Getty Images/TNS)
Hope on the way: Here’s what to know about California’s COVID-19 vaccine plan

The first batch of doses could hit the state as soon as early December

The Big Game was played Friday at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley. (Shutterstock)
Stanford blocks extra point to stun Cal, win 123rd Big Game 24-23

The 123rd edition of the Big Game featured a number of firsts.… Continue reading

Most Read