Price tag for beach project jumps $1.1 million, still climbing

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY – One week before work is supposed to begin on replenishing six miles of beaches on the northern part of the barrier island, the project’s cost has grown by more than $1.1 million. Trucks are expected to start dumping sand on the beaches between John’s Island and Golden Sands on Feb. 9.

The Board of County Commissioners approved two change orders to the project and is expected to address another $545,000 at a meeting later this month. The board can also expect another change order between $1.5 million to $2 million to address an extra 109,000 cubic yards of sand the project now needs due to further beach erosion, county staff said Tuesday. Also on the horizon for the county is the possibility of having to establish a 1.6-acre artificial reef – a cost estimated at $1.6 million – to offset damage done to the existing reef due to sand runoff.

Public Works Director Chris Mora said that environmental agencies might require the county to install the fake reef if the new sand has damaged the existing reef. That requirement, however, could be decided three years after the beach project is completed in 2011.

Given the currently approved change orders and the pending $545,000 request from Ranger Construction, Budget Director Jason Brown told commissioners that the project would still be less expensive than if the county had hired an offshore sand pumping company.

The county currently has budgeted $12.98 million. The budget for the offshore company would have been $13.1 million.

Commissioners unanimously approved the $7.27 million contract with Ranger Construction, the contractor on the project but were less willing to grant the full $984,502 amount in Ranger’s first work order.

Ranger argued that new and unexpected provisions handed down by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection have caused the nearly $1 million budget increase.

Those agencies gave asked for the following:

More coarse material on the beach

More frequent sand testing during dredging at the source location and on the beach

Split the project into two phases due to the short time frame to wrap up work before turtle nesting season May 1.

Commissioners said they understood that the new requirements would increase the costs,  and approved $439,093, which the county’s consultant, Coastal Technology could justify.

Bob Schaffer, of Ranger Construction, told commissioners that half the amount would not cover his costs.

“I can’t do the project” at $439,000, he said. “I don’t know where we go from here.”

Commissioners told him and staff to work to justify the additional $545,000 and they would consider approving that change order.

Schaffer explained that the run-up on the costs is not on his end but on that of the sand provider, Ranch Road Lake Mine.

Steve Smith, the mine’s owner, told commissioners that it costs $400 an hour to operate the machinery to dredge the sand. That machine is expected to pull 250 cubic yards an hour, of which 100 and 150 cubic yards would be usable.

He told commissioners that would cost $568,000, not including what he anticipates will be overtime costs to employees of $50,000 to $60,000 a month per dredge machine.

“We’re ready to do the job,” Smith said.

Coastal Technology, the project consultant, also received an extra $738,468 for additional costs it did not expect to incur due to added monitoring work regulatory agencies are now requiring. Approximately $26,000 will be used for more sea turtle monitoring than had originally been required.


By the Numbers

Original Ranger Construction Contract: $7.27 million

Ranger Change Order #1 requested (to cover unexpected requirements): $984,502

Ranger Change Order #1 approved: $439,093

Ranger Change Order #1 pending: $545,409

Anticipated Change Order – 109,000 cubic yards: $1.5-$2 million estimate

Current Coastal Technology Contract: $2.34 million

Potential Natural Impact: $1.6 million estimate for artificial reef – 3 years out

Current Project Cost Projection: $12.3 million (including Ranger’s full request, not including reef)

Current Budget: $12.98 million

Current Funding: $13.1 million

Last Updated: Tuesday 4:23 p.m.

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