RFTA must spend millions to repair faulty bus facility
July 8, 2010
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – The Roaring Fork Valley’s public bus agency must decide whether to spend up to $5.6 million to repair its primary maintenance facility or abandon the structure and rebuild from scratch for up to $10 million.
The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority’s bus maintenance facility in Glenwood Springs was supposed to last 30 years when it was built in 2001. Instead it ran into problems almost immediately, according to a memo to the agency’s board of directors from Mike Hermes, director of facilities.
“From the time the building was occupied in 2002 until near the end of 2003, significant amounts of water leaked from the clarifier pit located in the bus wash bay,” Hermes wrote. “This leak, resulting from a faulty design, caused compaction of soils under the wash bay and the building’s foundation.”
The water leak continued for months after it was detected because the contractor and subcontractor failed to adequately fix it, RFTA claims. The leak was finally stopped when a liner was placed in the wash bay.
While water is no longer leaking, the foundation is still being undermined from the soils getting wet and settling, according to Hermes. The contractor has been notified of the problems and is “being given the opportunity to cure the damages,” Hermes wrote to the board. A closed session is planned at the RFTA board’s regular meeting Thursday in Carbondale to discuss potential litigation against the contractor.
RFTA has spent nearly $400,000 to investigate the problem and for engineering of repairs. The bus agency staff is recommending that the board authorize either a “partial fix” by repairing the portion of the building that is settling the most or a full repair of the building. The partial fix is estimated to cost up to $4.15 million with a warranty. The full fix will cost $5.8 million.
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Hermes also raised the option of abandoning the building and replacing it with a larger structure for up to $10 million. The staff argued against that option.
“A board decision is required because remaining in the Glenwood Maintenance Facility without repairing it is not a viable option,” Hermes wrote. A large portion of RFTA’s bus fleet is worked on and cleaned at the Glenwood Springs facility.
The need for the costly repair comes at a time when RFTA has little money to spare. It cut service and raised fares last winter to offset sagging sales tax receipts during the recession. The agency was concentrating on building a cash reserve to ride out tough times. The repairs will eat into the reserves if money isn’t recovered from the contractor.
The contractor wasn’t named in the memo, and RFTA CEO Dan Blankenship couldn’t be reached for comment.