Pier project pricetag is rising

By Mark Reynolds
Posted 10/21/20

Brandee Nelson, a Project Manager with Tighe & Bond, has been working with the Town of Marlborough to restore the south pier at the Milton Landing Park. Last week she updated the Town Board on …

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Pier project pricetag is rising

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Brandee Nelson, a Project Manager with Tighe & Bond, has been working with the Town of Marlborough to restore the south pier at the Milton Landing Park. Last week she updated the Town Board on the project.

Nelson said the restoration work was awarded to the Arben Group, a contractor specializing in heavy/civil construction projects in the region. They began demolition of the old portions of the pier on July 1, starting with the removal of the decking and framing.

“In doing so what was discovered was that a substantial number of timber pilings had what is called ‘head rot,’” she said. “The timber pilings were treated in creosote that only penetrated about two inches and over time the wood in the center that was not treated rots away.”

Nelson said about 80% of the pilings were found to have head rot, which was not anticipated from the initial evaluation that was done in 2016.

“Looking at the cost of increasing the number of timber pilings versus going with fewer but steel pilings was very close,” she said. “We also found after the contractor pulled some of the pilings from the river bottom that they were longer than anticipated, in the 70 to 75 foot range where we had estimated them to be about 65 feet long.”

Nelson said new timber pilings would have to be at least 80 feet in length when considering the size and loading capacities of visiting ships that may berth at the pier. After a series of meetings with the town, Nelson said it was decided to move away from the timber pilings and use fewer, but larger steel pilings.

“In doing so we can work around the three wooden dolphins, the squarish structures that stick out of the water,” she said. “We will be spanning those with four steel pilings at each dolphin and then a number of steel pilings that will extend towards the town’s fishing pier. We will have steel deck framing, timber decking and steel railing as we had originally proposed.” The old dolphins will remain in place because they are fixed into much of the horizontal bracing of the pier and the cost to remove them would be prohibitive.

Nelson said these changes were compiled in August, “and were given to the contractor for their review and repricing and they came back to us asking for a change order of around $250,000.” She said this was discussed with the town, with an eye on what design elements were included in order to accommodate the S.S. Columbia. This ship is the last remaining excursion steamship from the turn of the 20th century and is 208 feet in length from bow to stern. It was designated a National Landmark in 1992 and is in the process of being restored near Buffalo, which is expected to take years to complete.

“These design elements that we’ve recommended to come out now could go in at a future date if the S.S. Columbia becomes seaworthy and you would like to bring it to this location,” she said.

Nelson said by taking out the protective fender system from the design they were able to lower the change order to $75,000 while retaining the original pier design. A fender system typically runs along the top of a dock face and creates a padding between a boat and the dock.

The original cost for the pier project was $1,578,648 and the $75,000 change order brings the total to $1,653,648. The engineering cost to design the pier was $25,000 but there may be some increase for the redesign that has not yet been finalized.

Nelson said they updated the permits for the project with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and with the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers that reflects the design change.

Supervisor Al Lanzetta said there will be a resolution before the board at their October 26th meeting to approve taking $75,000 from the Fund Balance to pay for the change order.

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