Thirty-six concrete culverts were delivered and dropped off Tuesday in Havre, this in addition to the ones that were already in Havre. The piping will eventually be used to complete a construction project that stalled more than a year ago because of a legal battle in which the city and the contractor accuse each other of violating the contract.
City officials now wait for the conclusion of an arbitration process that has been going on since after work ceased.
“Regardless of how the arbitration comes out,” said Andrew Brekke, Havre City Council chair, “the project will eventually be completed. It is just a matter of who pays.”
The hope is for construction to resume this fall, said Dave Peterson, Havre city public works director.
The $1.9-million Bullhook storm drain project — officially named the Storm Water Facility Improvements — was awarded to the Mesa, Arizona-based Kincaid Civil Construction. The purpose of the job, commisioned September 2016, was to upgrade a deteriorating drainage system. By May 2017, work had halted and Kincaid left town.
City officials were wary of the information they divulged about the legal kerfuffle until the issue is resolved but said as much as they felt they could.
“Kincaid felt that we had defaulted on the contract,” Peterson said Wednesday. “We disagreed.”
Brekke said that Kinkaid believes the city breached the contract over the timing of a change order request, thus giving them permission to walk away from the project. The city, however, believes Kinkaid breached the contract by initiating a winter shutdown that was never authorized, Brekke added.
“They were hired to do a job. They didn’t do the job. And there are holes all over the city,” Brekke said.
A spokesperson for Kincaid said Thursday afternoon that she couldn’t comment — beyond the fact that she agrees with the assessment that both parties are accusing the other of breaching the contract — until arbitration process is resolved.
If the arbitrator rules in the city’s favor, the performance bond Kinkaid posted as part of the project requirements will be awarded to the city and that money will be used to hire a new contractor to finish the project, Brekke said. If the arbitrator rules in Kinkaid’s favor, the city will have to figure out how to pay to complete the project.
Gary Zadick out of Great Falls is the attorney representing Havre.
The Storm Water Facility Improvements project will install the concrete culverts in the Bullhook drainage ditch, which runs from south of the city and through the city before draining into the Milk River.
The Storm Water Facility Improvements project was commissioned for $1,972,500. The additional 36 culverts were built by Forterra Pipe & Precast, Peterson said. By the time Kincaid had left, Forterra had made a lot of them, Peterson said. The city paid for all of them and had them shipped despite the project delay to avoid paying 2018 prices. The city paid 2016 prices for them, Peterson said. Depending on the design, some of the culverts cost $6,000, some $4,000, and others $3,800.