Govt moves to clarify position on Heritage Wharf
An investigation into the stability of the new main dock at Heritage Wharf will be carried out, Government said yesterday.
And Government is also investigating the matter of liability in regards to the damaged thruster wall at the west end site in hopes of identifying ways to recover costs for work to remove the structure.
In a statement issued by the Ministry of Public Works intended to address ongoing concerns regarding Heritage Wharf, Public Works Minister Michael Weeks reiterated that the damaged thruster wall was being removed rather than repaired as a cost-saving measure.
Mr Weeks said, I want to stress once again to those in the community who continue to drag on about this issue, that the Ministry of Public Works has carefully examined the issues with the aim to reduce both the projected cost of the repairs and the long term maintenance costs of the structure.
The Ministry has now concluded that removal of the thruster wall is a cheaper and faster solution than repair and removes all Government liabilities with respect to the cruise ships.
Further, the Ministry has concluded that the removal of the existing wall which has failed will cost between $150,000 and $175,000 as compared with the projected cost of $500,000 to repair the wall.
Removing the thruster wall would, according to the Ministry, save in maintenance costs and allow Government to retain $2 million of materials, which will be used to make improvements to Kings Wharf and Heritage Wharf to allow larger ships to visit.
A Ministry noted that an investigation into the Wharfs structural stability will be carried out.
Minister Weeks added, There may be a need for alternative attenuation works and to this end the Ministry of Public Works has been in consultation with the Department of Environmental Protection which will assist by monitoring throughout the coming cruise ship season the effects of the removal of the thruster wall.
It is our expectation that this monitoring will demonstrate that a wall is not necessary in this location due to the natural flows and dispersal of sediments.
If attenuation measures are needed, it is the Ministrys intention to pursue the possibility of a softer engineering approach, one that may be more appropriate for the local environment.
Additionally, a softer engineering approach may have substantially lower maintenance costs for Government, thereby effecting substantial cost savings in the long term.
Regarding the thruster wall, Mr Weeks said Government has agreed to finance its removal, but said that an investigation into liability for the walls failure would be carried out. The structure was designed by Entech Ltd and built by Correia Construction Ltd.
Mr Weeks said: The Government has adopted a proactive stance in undertaking the repairs in order to limit its liability.
It is important to make the point that investigations to date indicate that the damage sustained to the thruster wall was not as a result of the quality of work carried out by Correia Construction Company Ltd. which built the wall.
During the course of the works, the Ministry will be able to review more thoroughly the structure as-built and reach conclusions as to whether any structural elements contributed to the damage.
The Heritage Wharf, which opened in April of 2009, was hailed as critical for the future of Bermuda tourism, but during construction the cost of the project swelled from $35 million to $60 million.
The thruster wall, built to reduce sediment transfer and reduce the impact on foreshore habitats, corals and the dolphins at Dolphin Quest, was cited as one of the causes of the cost overruns.
According to Correia Construction Ltd, the wall was redesigned four times before it was completed at a final cost of $4.1 million.
In October 2010, less than two-years after the structures completion, the thruster wall suffered extensive damage during Hurricane Igor, a Category 1 storm.
Earlier this year, Government announced that rather than repair the structure at an estimated cost of $500,000, they would remove the structure entirely at an estimated cost of $150,000 to $175,000.
Work on the thruster walls removal has already begun, and is hoped to be completed in the next four to six weeks.
Commenting on the statement, Raymond Charleton of the One Bermuda Alliance said that while Government may want the public to move on, there remain many unanswered questions.
Mr Charleton said that Government needs to release the results of reports ordered on the thruster wall, saying: Either it was needed for environmental reasons or it wasnt.
If it wasnt needed, just imagine what we could have done with that money. People may wonder why I go on about this. I am concerned about the environment, but Im just as concerned about the lack of accountability when it comes to taxpayer money and cost overruns.
He also said that during a recent appearance on a talk show, Environment Minister Marc Bean said that he had not been consulted about the removal of the wall.
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