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Protective Do-Over: Seattle Halts Project for Recoating

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

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Talk about change orders.

The City of Seattle has halted construction of a $75 million recycling facility in order to disassemble the prefab steel structure and recoat it with a better grade of paint.

The change involves dismantling the half-completed, 110,000-square-foot South Transfer Station facility; shipping out the pieces for recoating; and reassembling the steel.

 Seattle Public Utilities

 Seattle Public Utilities

The new transfer station had been under construction for about two weeks when the new coating was ordered and disassembly began.

The change project will cost $2.8 million, which the utility and design-build contractor Mortenson Construction will share. The city’s share will come from a $4 million reserve account.

SPU spokesman Andy Ryan said the initial additional cost would mean “incalculable savings” over the 50- to 60-year life of the new facility, including at least $3 million in maintenance savings.

‘Sharpened Their Pencils’

The change was ordered about two weeks into construction, after an analysis by SPU and Minneapolis-based Mortenson determined that more durable paint would significantly reduce maintenance and downtime over the station’s life.

“Our guys sharpened their pencils, and fortunately they were able to really look at the long-term maintenance costs of the building,” Ryan said in an interview. “We’re lucky they thought of it now, rather than 10 years from now.”

The coating originally chosen was designed for dry areas; the new one is formulated for wet environments like the transfer station, Ryan said. The names and types of coatings systems were not immediately available.

Ryan said the utility had not anticipated the coating issue, because the facility is part of Seattle’s cutting-edge recycling effort and thus has few models to emulate.

‘In a Perfect World…’

“In a perfect world, we would think of everything before,” he said. “This is the first structure that we have built that is going to have the organics and misting going on inside.”

The steel pieces have been sent to five area paint shops for recoating. Ryan said it would have been more difficult, more environmentally damaging, and less effective to paint the steel in place.

Linda De Boldt, deputy director and chief engineer at Seattle Public Utilities, told the Seattle Journal of Daily Commerce that the paint system was upgraded to improve its corrosion protection. The new paint will need maintenance every 15 years, instead of every four years, she said.

“During large construction projects like this, there are opportunities that come up that weren't identified during the design process,” she told the newspaper. “It was an opportunity that came up during the construction phase. It would have been a lot harder decision to make if it were further along.”

Both Mortenson and steel supplier and erector PHI Construction of Portland referred inquiries to SPU, the Journal said.

Schedule Unaffected

The station is replacing a 55-year-old facility that will be demolished when the new station is completed. Reassembly of the facility should begin in mid-October.

The project is expected to be completed on time and within budget next summer, officials said.


Tagged categories: Coating selection; Corrosion resistance; Protective coatings; Steel

Comment from George McCormic, (9/28/2011, 6:49 AM)

Maintenance every 15 years vice 4. I wonder ifthey will inspect on a periodic basis or wait until the 15 year mark. I personally believe this is one reason we have so many structures that require replacing, total lack of maintenance and lack of proper inspections.

Comment from Chuck Pease, (9/28/2011, 11:10 PM)

Not only that, imagine all of the headaches that could have been saved and not to mention the 2.8 million if architects and engineers actually had specifiers on staff that actually understand each division they are writing specs for. Architects should lean more on the SSPC, NACE and reputable painting contractors to know what works best in the field. What a waste of time and money. That's a 2.8 million dollar copy and paste of a project spec by a college kid. God Bless this business!!!!

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