Plant construction delayed by 11 months; discussion scheduled for Feb. 9

Photo Credit: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Mayor John Kovash listens as assistant construction manager Kyle Sandera describes progress on the new LOT water plant during a Jan. 22 tour.It was a piece of news that no one wanted to hear — not the Lake Oswego-Tigard Water Partnership (LOT), not the City of West Linn and certainly not the residents who live around the LOT water treatment plant in the Robinwood neighborhood.

The Slayden Construction Group (SCG) announced in December that a project to expand and replace the LOT water treatment plant in West Linn would be delayed by approximately 11 months. Though the majority of the $250 million project — which is designed to upgrade and increase system capacity to deliver drinking water from the Clackamas River to Lake Oswego and Tigard — will be completed by summer of 2016, final completion of the water plant is not expected until early 2017, according to LOT.

“Obviously it’s been a surprise and disappointment to us,” LOT spokesperson Katy Fulton said. “Right now, our main focus is looking for ways to try and complete construction as soon as possible, and we’re working with our contractor to do that — really looking at the schedule to see what we can do.”

LOT is still reviewing project records to determine the exact causes for the delay, and Fulton said that “there are a variety of reasons progress has slowed,” including equipment delivery delays and weather related obstacles.

“There’s a number of factors, and it’s really complex,” said Kyle Sandera, an assistant construction manager for the project.

To speed up construction, Slayden and LOT have discussed the possibility of working six days a week, “re-sequencing” major construction activities and installing temporary covers over buildings to allow interior work to occur prior to roof installation during the winter, according to Fulton.

Photo Credit: SUBMITTED PHOTO - A new water pump station is one of eight new structures being built as part of Phase A of the project.

“The contractor has had some ideas about how to improve the schedule,” Sandera said. “And he’s still working on looking at different methods to possibly increase production, bring in additional staff and so forth.

“So it’s really a work in progress. It’s all part of the schedule evaluation and what makes sense.”

In a Jan. 9 letter addressed to Lake Oswego Mayor Kent Studebaker and Tigard Mayor John Cook, West Linn Mayor John Kovash expressed his disappointment about the delay.

“As mayor of West Linn, I encourage LOT to do everything within your means to shorten the delay and make up for lost time and to reduce the continued impact of West Linn residents and businesses,” Kovash wrote. “I understand you have a revised schedule that incorporates recovery efforts and I encourage you to keep searching for additional ways to move forward and accelerate the schedule.”

In the letter, Kovash also expressed a concern that the delay would adversely impact other city projects — particularly the replacement of the Bolton Reservoir which, as he wrote, “relies on the water plan completion before we can take the reservoir offline.”

Kovash and Planning Commissioner Lorie Griffith toured the water plant construction site Jan. 22, and LOT representatives are scheduled to appear before the West Linn City Council Feb. 9.

“I’ve asked (Mayors Studebaker and Cook) to the meeting,” Kovash said after the tour was completed.

“They’ve been good to work with. They want it completed too, but construction realities are construction realities.”

The water plant expansion and reconstruction project includes three phases: A, B and C. Right now, according to Sandera, Slayden is nearing completion of phase A.

“These eight structures we’re working on are all part of phase A,” he said. “And the project is very linear in that if something happens in one phase, it sort of pushes everything back.”

The process is further complicated by the fact that the plant must stay operational during construction.

“It’s not like we started on a fresh plate where we were able to just construct everything at once,” Fulton said.

The good news, according to Fulton and Sandera, is that the “major” construction efforts — demolition, excavation, auger cast pile installation - will be largely complete by the fall of 2016.

“And then between fall 2016 and early 2017, we’re expecting most of those activities the contractor is performing will be lower impact in terms of noise, vibration and construction traffic,” Fulton said. “It will be things like landscaping and working in interior buildings. A lot of that work will be smaller in impact.”

Moving forward, Kovash said he is most concerned about how the increased duration of the project will affect neighbors. The city recently consulted its attorney to learn if there are any additional measures it can take to push construction along.

“We’re really concerned about the duration of the project and the increased duration of disruption in the neighborhood,” Kovash said. “We also know that unfortunately delays are the virtual norm in large construction projects, so our goal is to minimize the duration of construction.”

Patrick Malee can be contacted at 503-636-1281 Ext. 106 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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