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Second Appeal Analysis
PA ID# 037-99037-00; Los Angeles County
PW ID# Project Worksheet 3112; Las Flores Canyon Road Repair
As a result of heavy rainfall during the February 2005 Winter Storms, Project Worksheet (PW) #776 was prepared in October 2005 for the amount of $183,978 to fund stabilization of a failed slope and associated restoration of pavement and appurtenances along a section of Las Flores Canyon Road, 200 feet south of culvert marker (CM) 2.04, located in the Malibu area of Los Angeles County. Los Angeles County (Applicant) disagreed with FEMA’s scope of work and funding determinations in the PW. The estimated total project cost requested in appeal is $612,948.
The Applicant submitted a first appeal to the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (OES) on April 27, 2006 and OES forwarded the appeal to FEMA on June 21, 2006. The Applicant contended that the scope of work needed to be revised to be consistent with the plans developed by its staff the County for repair of the facility, based on information from its geotechnical consultant, and the project cost needed to be increased accordingly. The scope of work as set forth in the PW called for a 64-foot long soldier pile wall, with pile spacing 8 feet on-centers. The Applicant argued that their design consultant, MACTEC Engineering and Consulting, Inc. (MACTEC), identified a slope failure having a width of 90 feet and recommended that the spacing between soldier piles not exceed 6 feet on-centers, as detailed in the consultant’s report (p. 13), dated August 11, 2005.
In support of the appeal the Applicant provided a set of plans (reduced in size) prepared by the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Works (LADPW), signed and sealed by a professional engineer in the state of California, as well as a line item estimate for the repair costs. These plans call for a 78-foot long soldier pile wall, with pile spacing 6 feet on-centers, that ties into an existing rock retaining wall on the west end. The Applicant, however, is requesting that FEMA revise PW #776 to increase the total wall length to 83 feet (not 78 feet as shown on the plans) and allow for the use of a cast-in-place reinforced concrete wall rather than the timber lagging identified in the PW scope of work. The Applicant is also requesting that FEMA allow for the costs of materials and labor associated with the revised scope of work, as well as engineering design and construction management proportionate to the increased amount, which results in a total project cost of $612,948.
Region IX denied the appeal because insufficient documentation had been provided to support the increased length of wall (i.e. the need for 83 feet rather than 64 feet as defined in the PW). It was further noted by Region IX that an increase in the length of wall above that defined in PW #776 would necessitate a request from the Applicant for an Improved Project.
The Applicant submitted a second appeal to OES on November 20, 2006, and OES forwarded the appeal to FEMA on January 19, 2007. The Applicant reiterated its position regarding the need for a change to the scope of work to comply with the recommendations of its consultant, MACTEC, and the design prepared by LADPW, along with the associated increase in the total project cost. Noting that the county’s engineer of record is responsible for the correct and appropriate repair scheme for the damaged site, the Applicant emphasized the statement made by Region IX in response to the first appeal that “FEMA neither designs, nor is responsible for designing, methods of repair.” The Applicant provided a copy of the geotechnical report prepared by MACTEC, dated August 11, 2005, as documentation to support its position.
Regarding the justification for the use of a cast-in-place reinforced concrete wall, rather than timber lagging, the Applicant’s position in the second appeal is that the timber lagging is vulnerable to destruction by fire. The Applicant’s position is that the concrete wall is necessary for the purpose of public safety given the susceptibility to wildfires in the area where the site is located and the fact that Las Flores Canyon Road is an important road not only as an evacuation route, but also for providing access to firefighting crews and equipment. The total project cost requested in the second appeal is $612,948, which is the same amount requested in the first appeal.
PW #776 was prepared based on a set of plans (reduced in size) prepared by LADPW, signed and sealed (July 27, 2005) by a professional engineer in the state of California. The plans call for a 60-foot long soldier pile wall that ties into an existing rock retaining wall on the west end. The Applicant submitted in both of its appeals a reduced set of plans, dated September 13, 2005, that call for a 78-foot long soldier pile wall that ties into an existing rock retaining wall on the west end.
Since no information was provided in either appeal regarding the revision to the wall length, it can only be assumed that the change was made based on information in the geotechnical report, prepared by MACTEC, dated August 11, 2005, which identified a slope failure having a width of 90 feet. No information was provided by the Applicant in either appeal indicating if or when a revised set of plans was given to FEMA. In the second appeal (p. 4) the Applicant states, “The County’s wall will encompass the damaged slope of 90 feet, less 7-foot of rock wall that is holding the road over 7 feet of the 90 foot failure distance (90 feet -7 feet = 83feet).” This statement, however, is not supported by the LADPW plans, which show a total wall length of 78 feet.
As stated by Region IX, in response to the first appeal, “FEMA neither designs, nor is responsible for designing, methods of repair.” Therefore, the scope of work for the PW should define spacing between soldier piles of 6 feet on-centers as recommended by the Applicant’s geotechnical consultant, MACTEC, and as shown on the original and revised sets of plans prepared by LADPW, which are signed and sealed by a professional engineer registered in the state of California. The MACTEC report was available to FEMA at the time the PW was prepared.
The scope of work in the PW (Item 6) calls for “timber lagging boards,” but the cost estimate (Item 7) calls for RC lagging panels, with the abbreviation undefined. An internal correspondence written by the PW Preparer, dated October 25, 2005, indicates the use of reinforced concrete panels rather than timber lagging. Other information in the PW file shows that a revision was made to the draft PW before it was submitted for final review and data entry; however, the substitution of the reinforced concrete panels for the timber lagging boards in the scope of work was not made.
The total project cost should not be increased to reflect construction of an 83-foot long soldier pile wall and appurtenances as requested by the Applicant, since the plans prepared by the LADP and submitted with the appeal only call for a 78-foot long wall. Nevertheless, the costs should be revised in a version to PW #766 using the cost information originally provided by LADPW to FEMA in the preparation of the PW.
The statement is made in the PW that, “…estimate was based on the LA City Cost Code 2005 and the LA County Public Works cost history.” As part of the documentation for the PW there is a line item estimate identified as total contract estimate for Project RDC0014806 – Las Flores Canyon Road (3 Retaining Wall Projects), prepared by LADPW and dated September 06, 2005, with Items 30-55 identified as costs associated with “Las Flores Canyon Road, 220 feet south of CM 2.04.” Therefore, the basis for costs in the version to PW #776 should be the information that was provided to FEMA at the time the PW #776, which varies significantly fromeawith both appeals, a total contract estimate for Project RDC0014711 (Las Flores Canyon Road – 220 feet south of CM 2.04 Retaining Wall), prepared by LADPW and dated February 14, 2006, which differed significantly from the total contract estimate for Project RDC0014806, referred to above, that was provided to FEMA during the preparation of PW #776. The second estimate was prepared only five months after the first; however, in neither the first nor the second appeal did the Applicant offer any explanation for the significant cost differences between the two estimates. Table 1 provides a comparison of some, but not all of the line items where costs varied between the two estimates. As stated in the Office of Management and Budget Circular A-87, the costs associated with execution of the project must be both necessary and reasonable.
Comparison of Cost Estimates Prepared by LADPW for
Repairs to Las Flores Canyon Road, 220 feet south of CM 2.04
Item of Work Sep 2005 Feb 2006
Mobilization $40,000 $50,000
Unclassified Excavation $40 per CY $200 per CY
Structural Excavation (Ret. Wall) $80 per CY $250 per CY
Structural Backfill (Ret. Wall) $80 per CY $400 per CY
AC Pavement $125 per TON $350 per TON
Crushed Miscellaneous Base $120 per CY $200 per CY
Structural Concrete (Ret. Wall) $750 per CY $1,300 per CY
Structural Concrete (Soldier Pile) $400 per CY $650 per CY
Drill Piles Holes, 36” Dia. $135 per LF $250 per LF
Install Steel Piles $1,000 EA $1,500 EA
Prefabricated Drainage Composite $4 per SF $25 per SF
Terminal System (Type ET) $2,000 EA $5,000 EA
For the reasons stated above, the Applicant’s appeal for an 83-foot soldier pile wall is denied. However, FEMA will prepare a version to PW #776 for a 78-foot long soldier pile, with pile spacing 6 feet on-centers, and a cast-in-place reinforced concrete wall. Further, the cost will be based on the original unit cost data provided by LADPW that was used to prepare the original PW.