Delays could alter Civic Center construction schedule


NEWPORT BEACH — Delays in ordering steel, severe winter storms and some design changes may cause the city’s Civic Center construction schedule to slip, but officials don’t know by how much or if it will ultimately alter the move-in date.

Public Works Director Steve Badum explained these setbacks and outlined some unexpected costs in the $130-million-plus project at Tuesday’s City Council study session.

If the costs continue to add up, the construction manager could spend $2.8 million or more in contingency funds, but it’s too early to say how much will be needed. Any glitches in construction are sure to be watched by critics, who complained that the project was too expansive and expensive in the first place.

Councilwoman Leslie Daigle, who has been critical before, questioned Badum and a representative from C.W. Driver, the construction management company. She asked about potential change-orders and about how they have shifted funds to cover unforeseen expenses.

“This is a very complicated project,” said William Hahn, project manager with C.W. Driver. “There are a lot of visual aspects to this project that require a lot of fine-tuning.”

One of those aspects is steel. Because some of the building will show exposed steel, the architects have been exceedingly careful to order the right material, Badum said. At a cost of $8.4 million, steel is also one of the most expensive components of the project. Its complications have put plans in flux.

“All the buffers we had in the schedule before are starting to disappear,” Badum said.

Another delay involved changes to the shoring wall — a problem that cost about $145,000. In the first phase of construction, Driver spent about $450,000 of its $490,400 contingency, although some of that is earmarked for a later phase.

For the second two phases, which are underway, the city allocated about $2.3 million of contingencies in Driver’s contract. As an incentive, the company would receive 25% of any of those funds that go unused. It has spent about $132,000 of that, but much work remains.

If crews are able to make up lost time, Badum said they could still hit the December 2012 move-in date.

Some council members said they were satisfied with the progress and Driver’s work.

“I feel as if they’re watching the money as if it is theirs,” said Councilman Rush Hill.

Beyond Driver’s contingency, the council could approve an additional $2.6 million of changes.