Nfld. & Labrador

N.L. government facing $8.5M lawsuit over Placentia bridge contract

The company hired to build the new bridge alleges that design changes and poor administration added 18 months to the project.

Company says design changes, other issues, caused delays finishing work

The new Sir Ambrose Shea Lift Bridge opened in the fall of 2016. (Terry Roberts/CBC)

The company hired to build a new lift bridge in Placentia is suing the Newfoundland and Labrador government for $8.5 million, claiming design changes and poor administration added 18 months to the project.

Bird Heavy Civil Ltd. — which was formerly called H.J. O'Connell Construction Limited — filed a statement of claim at Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court last week.

"During the project, (the company) encountered various design changes, changes in geotechnical conditions, scope of work additions, extraordinary efforts due to changes, coordination problems with regulatory agencies that delayed work, and contract administration issues related to the work program," court documents allege.

At the very beginning of construction of the project, it became apparent that the design and specification for the piles were inadequate.- Statement of claim

The company claims that all of that was the responsibility of the department "and all of which resulted in significant changes to the work and caused extensive unanticipated delays in the project."

The province was "solely responsible" for delays that saw the work finished "18 months later than anticipated based on the tender information, design and specifications," Bird Heavy Civil alleged in court documents.

The claims have not been tested in court, and the province has yet to file a statement of defence.

Both sides declined comment, noting that the matter remains before the court.

Contract awarded in 2013

The $40.6-million contract was awarded in early 2013.

The new Sir Ambrose Shea lift bridge officially opened in the fall of 2016.

In court documents, the contractor alleged there were problems from the start.

"At the very beginning of construction of the project, it became apparent that the design and specification for the piles were inadequate," the statement of claim notes.

The piles form part of the foundation of the bridge. That issue, Bird alleges, caused a cascading series of problems.

"The result was out of sequence operations, extended construction durations for some aspects of the work, and forced the performance of work items into unfavourable seasonal periods," the company's court filings note.

The company said it submitted a request to the province in late 2017 for adjustments to seek $8.5 million in compensation.

The pending lawsuit seeks that amount, plus interest, damages, and costs.

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