Sometimes getting the lowest price isn’t always worth it.
A city staff report that went public last week shows that consistently poor-quality work and public safety violations were the reasons why a paving contractor, Key-West, is being recommended for removal from the bidders’ list at City of Chilliwack for a period of five years.
Council voted last Tuesday to delay any decision on removing the contractor until after the Dec. 20 council meeting, when Key-West Asphalt officials are set to address council.
The report cited Key-West Asphalt, but also other companies with the same team and equipment, after a litany of “extraordinary” issues were compiled by city engineering staff in a report.
Key-West Asphalt (333) Ltd. or companies under other business names, such as GTB Construction or Keywest, have won the paving contract at city hall every year but two, in the past eight years. Key-West has also been the sub-contractor on several design/build projects.
“While their price competitiveness has resulted in a $510,499” in savings over the years, the report stated the “physical risk” to the public and “long-term maintenance costs” may not ultimately offer good value, staff report said.
Also their violations “put the public at risk.”
Once a flagger abandoned their position in traffic control and was later fired.
“Their poor traffic management practices increase the risk of crashes which may result in property damage, injury or death,” according to the report.
More than a dozen “warnings” were issued, and cited in the exhaustive table, contained in the staff report, for quality or safety issues like an illegal fire hydrant connection, trespassing, wavy base course edges or insufficient traffic control.
A recent incident saw a flagger vacate their post, leaving motorists to guess when it was safe to enter the single-lane traffic, which could have led to a head-on crash.
Quality of issues included “poor ride quality” at numerous sites, that necessitated milling and repaving the worst sections over again to repair deficiencies.
The staff report makes it clear that “poor quality road work shortens the life cycle and increases maintenance costs, putting pressure on annual operating budgets.
Unmaintained work zone signs were also a big issue.
In 2016 the contractor was “shut down for a month while acceptable safety management procedures proposed and implemented,” according to the staff report.
There were cease work orders, and warnings, and once the contractor had to reimburse a homeowner after using a private hose without permission.
To substantiate the staff recommendation of striking the company from the list, the report concluded: “Repeated poor attention to public safety and low quality work” were deemed to be “too great of a risk, and of poor financial value.
“While the quality issues area significant concern, the primary concern is that of public safety, and that, while it goes without saying, the cost savings to the City are outweighed by the life safety issues.”
* This version of the story has been modified from the original in order to correct the erroneous assertion that Chilliwack city council had voted already on this matter. In fact it will be voted on Dec. 20.