Marching on

Workers pour new concrete on the west driveway of the new public safety facility under construction between Railroad and Larrance streets. City officials said Tuesday that they don’t expect construction to be complete on the building until Jan. 1.

Contractors are indicating it will be Jan. 1 before construction on Lawton’s new public safety facility will be complete.

City Council members learned the new date Tuesday while they were reviewing the latest list of change order items associated with the complex being built east of downtown, in an industrial area stretching from Gore Boulevard to Southeast B Avenue, between Larrance and Railroad streets.

Tuesday’s discussion was centered on change order No. 18, which listed 28 separate items that were/have been changed from original designs. City Engineer Joseph Painter said the changes were all “design items that need to be corrected,” but the change order also includes an additional 33 days added to the project’s completion time. While change order 18 specifies the new completion date would have been Sept. 21, contractors said earlier this month they expected to hand the facility over to the City of Lawton by Thanksgiving, although additional change orders still were on the table.

Tuesday, Painter confirmed there is another change order in the works, and those changes will take the completion date of the complex to Jan. 1.

“We are getting very close to done,” Painter said, adding that while the project has contained “a lot of design errors,” the city will end up with a quality facility.

The project also cited additional work days added to the project, due to a variety of reasons. Painter said while the latest round of additional days include three weather days, the project has 24 days related to COVID-19. Officials with Flintco (the project’s general contractor) have said those delays include actual work time lost by employees who have contracted the virus or are in isolation, as well as delays in delivery of materials because of production shutdowns. Painter said an entire electrical crew had to be quarantined after one member contracted COVID-19.

Council members are frustrated by the change orders and the additional time added to the completion date.

“We’re kinda over a barrel,” said Ward 4 Councilman Jay Burk, saying he disagrees with some requested days.

Ward 8 Councilman Randy Warren said the bigger issue is the days lost to COVID-19, adding that while Lawton citizens are not at fault, they are having to pay the increased cost.

But, Warren and Burk also said the council would be pursuing “other avenues” for the time overrun and design changes. Last year, council frustration prompted members to direct city administrators to bring every change order associated with the public safety complex to the full council for discussion, rather than just major change orders (as had been the policy).

The change order approved Tuesday adds $102,319 to the $34.407 million project, with that work to include lowering the ceiling in the dayroom landing area of the jail ($16,149) and the detention area ($10,141), and correcting a sprinkler line conflict ($11,982).

The original $33.765 million project was awarded to Flintco in August 2017, with a Notice to Proceed on what was projected as a 660-day project issued Oct. 22, 2017.

Upon completion, the facility will house the firefighting crews of Central Fire Station on its north end, the city jail on its south end, and Lawton Police Department and Lawton Municipal Court in the center of the building. An annex built on the south side of Southeast B Avenue will provide storage space for city police. The project also has included reconstruction of Larrance Street because of the increase in traffic associated with the complex and a new traffic signal light at the Railroad Street/East Gore Boulevard intersection.

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