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Second Appeal Analysis
PA ID# 037-99037-00; Los Angeles County
PW ID# 3048; Road Repair
Winter storms between December 27, 2004, and January 11, 2005, resulted in slope movements, with attendant damage to adjacent pavement on Encina Road at two locations. FEMA prepared Project Worksheet (PW) 3048 in August 2005 to address the repairs for two sites on the road at a total estimated cost of $182,009. The damage at Site 1 is described as a slope failure that resulted in a pavement collapse over a length of 60 feet, to a width of 16 feet and depth of 10 feet. The pavement consisted of 4 inches of asphalt with 6 inches of aggregate base. Sections of asphalt curb, 2 feet wide and 8 inches high, were also broken along the 60-foot length. The Los Angeles County (Applicant) performed a temporary repair at the site that included construction of a 60-foot long timber retaining structure, which is addressed in a separate PW. The scope of work for permanent repairs to Site 1 called for a soldier pile wall consisting of steel sections encased in concrete, with pre‑cast concrete panels between soldier piles, restoration of integral ground, and repairs to the asphalt pavement and curb.
Site 2 is located approximately 300 feet east of Site 1. The damage at Site 2 was originally described in the PW as movement in the underlying soil and pavement that resulted in cracking and bulging over a length of 33 feet and width of 3 feet, as well as tension cracks in the asphalt curb, which is 2 feet wide and 8 inches high over the 33-foot length. The damage was observed along a section of road between two existing retaining walls. At the time, FEMA understood that the damage was attributable to a slope failure or washout; therefore, the scope of work in the PW was written for repairs to the asphalt pavement and curb.
Another site visit was performed after the PW was written, and the geotechnical specialist who performed the visit concluded that the pavement damage was the result of a slope failure between the existing retaining walls. It was also concluded that the slope failure was the result of the declared event and restoration of the slope was eligible for FEMA funding. Consequently, a version was prepared (PW 3048-1) to amend the PW scope of work to include construction of a 58-foot long retaining wall of the same type as the existing retaining walls, which are constructed of timber lagging between steel soldier piles. The cost for the additional work covered in PW 3048-1 was estimated at $138,239, which brought the total project cost to $320,248 for the repairs at both sites.
The Applicant sent the first appeal to the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (OES), in a letter dated January 18, 2006, and OES forwarded the appeal to FEMA in a letter dated March 17, 2006, in support of the Applicant’s appeal. In the appeal, the Applicant requested that FEMA modify the scope of work to allow for a wall length of 63 feet, with soldier piles spaced 6 feet on centers rather than 8 feet on centers as stated in the PW, along with some additional cable railing and guardrail. The Applicant argued that FEMA based the scope of work in the PW on a design prepared by FEMA without consideration to the County’s design standards. The Applicant stated that, rather than using pre-cast concrete panels between soldier piles, the County’s practice is to use cast-in-place reinforced concrete between soldier piles with timber lagging used for forming purposes. The Applicant requested FEMA to fund an additional $38,596, for a total project cost of $358,844.
FEMA responded to the Applicant’s appeal in a letter to OES, dated August 14, 2006. It was FEMA’s position that the scope of work provided in PW 3048-1 is adequate to address the disaster damage and restore the roadway, as well as stabilize the site. FEMA also stated that the Applicant had not demonstrated that the County’s practice to install soldier piles 6 feet on centers was a standard that meets the requirements of the federal regulations. FEMA did state, however, that construction of cast-in-place reinforced concrete between soldier piles, rather than the use pre-cast concrete panels, would not constitute a significant change in the approved scope of work as long as the dimensions of the wall did not increase. Finally, FEMA noted that the Applicant does have the option of installing additional soldier piles or constructing a longer wall; however, if the County elects to do so they must obtain approval from the Grantee (OES) for an Improved Project in accordance with federal regulations.
The Applicant submitted the second appeal to OES in a letter dated October 23, 2006, and OES forwarded the appeal to FEMA in a letter dated December 14, 2006, in support of the Applicant’s appeal. In the appeal, the Applicant asserts that the first appeal was a request to modify the scope of work so as to reflect the manner of repair consistent with the County’s design to restore the site, and it was not a request for an improvement to the project. Subsequent to the first appeal, the Applicant’s geotechnical consultant, URS Corporation (URS) submitted a report, dated February 3, 2006, that presents design recommendations for the repairs at Site 1. A copy of the report was included with the appeal, along with copies of engineering analyses performed by the County and a reduced set of construction plans, signed and sealed by a professional engineer licensed in the state of California. The Applicant is requesting that FEMA allow for a wall length of 66 feet, with soldier piles spaced 6 feet. The Applicant is requesting that FEMA approve additional costs in the amount of $216,223, over the $153,267 currently obligated for repairs at Site 1, for a total cost of $369,490 for repairs at Site 1, which includes construction and soft costs. This would bring the cost for the entire PW to $536,471.
The PW refers to a 60-foot long temporary wall that was constructed to restore the road until permanent repairs could be made. However, the scope of work for permanent repairs calls for 9 soldier piles consisting of steel sections embedded in concrete inside 3-foot diameter holes spaced 8 feet on centers. This equates to a total length of 67 feet from the outside edge of the first soldier pile to the outside edge of the last. The Applicant is requesting 12 soldier piles consisting of steel sections set in concrete inside 2.5-foot diameter holes spaced 6 feet on centers. This equates to a total length of 68.5 feet from the outside edge of the first soldier pile to the outside edge of the last. The difference of 1.5 feet is not an issue, because the scope of work was prepared on the basis of information available at the time, without the benefit of a geotechnical study or engineering design analyses.
The design that the Applicant is requesting that FEMA fund is based on the results of both the geotechnical study and actual design analyses. In addition, the Applicant provided the results of a comparative analysis of the costs and quantities for soldier pile walls constructed with soldier piles spaced at 10, 8 and 6 feet on centers. In addition to the reduction in the spacing of the soldier piles, the final design resulted in changes from the assumptions made in the PW scope of work for such items as the size of the steel sections for the soldier piles and depth of pile embedment. As shown on the plans developed by the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Works, timber lagging is an integral component of the soldier pile wall, even with the use of cast-in-place reinforced concrete. The timber lagging serves not only as part of the formwork, but also as temporary soil support until the concrete has fully cured. Therefore, it is relevant to note that the timber lagging element of the wall should also constitute a component of work that is eligible for FEMA funding. Consequently, the requirements of the actual engineering design will increase the costs above those assumed in the PW scope of work.
In the second appeal, the Applicant provided a line item estimate for project construction quantities and costs, plus seven percent for design and three percent for construction management, yielding a total project cost estimate of $369,490 for repairs at Site 1; however, the Applicant did not provide a basis for the costs used in the estimate, such as the line item estimate of $10,000 for clearing and grubbing. The estimate includes $30,000 for mobilization, but mobilization is also included in PW 3048-1 for Site 2, and the cost should cover construction activities at both sites, since they are only approximately 300 feet apart. The estimate also contains line items for both guardrail and cable railing, which appears to be redundant. Therefore, the Applicant has not provided sufficient documentation to support or justify a change in the estimated project funding. The Applicant can request a funding adjustment at project closeout. At that time, detailed documentation will need to be provided in support of any adjustment to specific line items in the project scope of work, and such documentation must demonstrate that the costs are both reasonable and necessary.
The Applicant’s position is justified for the use of 2.5-foot diameter soldier piles spaced 6 feet on centers, as well as modifications to aspects of the scope of work for such items as the size of the steel sections for the soldier piles, depth of pile embedment, and timber lagging for concrete forming and temporary support as required by the County’s design. However, the Applicant did not to provide documentation in support of its request for an increase in project funding in the amount of $216,223. Therefore, the second appeal is approved for a change in the project scope of work. However, the issue of an increase in funding for the project will be addressed at project closeout.