After equipment problems delayed initial construction on Pine Bluff Wastewater Utility’s cured-in-place pipe, or CIPP, project, utility General Manager Ken Johnson remains uneasy about the project’s completion date possibly being pushed back.
Talk of the new CIPP point repairs, meant to prevent the leaking of sewer pipes, left the utility’s conference room under a cloud of confusion and skepticism recently after wastewater commissioners discussed the lack of progress made by the construction company due to numerous delays and scheduling issues.
Work for the project was scheduled to begin June 2, but was pushed back after Suncoast Infrastructure Inc. notified the utility of some equipment issues they were facing earlier that day. Pine Bluff Wastewater Utility was left under the impression that the company would begin repairs later that day after addressing said equipment issues, but they failed to show up for the rest of the work week.
Johnson said there was little to no explanation given by the company as to what was causing the delays or what is being done to fix them.
Plans for the repairs were supposed to resume on June 25, the morning of the commission meeting, but come Wednesday afternoon, Johnson expressed that he had seen no sign of the company up until that point.
“Will they finish on time as promised in their contract?” inquired Johnson, when discussing the multiple scheduling issues that have presented themselves throughout the $3.2 million project.
The two companies entered a 120-day contract that will end on Oct. 1, with all repairs expected to be completed no later than the first of the month. During Monday’s meeting, Johnson articulated plans to seek legal action if terms of the contract are not met in a timely manner.
When asked about Suncoast’s ability to perform the specified duties of the contract, John Causey, the company’s vice president, said:
“To the best of my knowledge, we are prosecuting our work on the current contract with PBWU in accordance with the terms and conditions of the contract and we anticipate completing the work within the allotted contract time.”
According to commission members, the company only spends a few hours a day, 8 a.m. to noon, on Monday through Thursday working on the repairs.
With little insight into the company’s action, Johnson is left to rely on the results of prior construction work done by the company in the Pine Bluff area, and said the company delivered late results for another entity seeking similar work.
Causey said that because he was not the project manager to the previous construction projects done by the company at the time, he would have to look into the utility’s concerns.
As of now, Pine Bluff Wastewater Utility is playing the waiting game as they continue to work out future scheduling and equipment problems with Suncoast Infrastructure Inc, hoping to keep the project on schedule according to the terms listed in the contract.