TC officials say it was obvious there we too many problems and delays
Work on Taft College's long-delayed new student center came to a halt this week when the college fired the contractor.
Construction work on the new structure, which was originally supposed to have opened this spring, didn't resume after the weekend and Taft College officials confirmed that California Averland Construction, the firm in charge of the $12 million project, was sent a letter of termination.
Delay after delay has slowed construction of the 21,000 square foot building on the eastern edge of the campus that was designed to house a student center, cafeteria, bookstore, staff mail room, and meeting rooms.
"It was becoming apparent that there were just too many hurdles, too many problems, (so) the college took action to project the district and get the work done," said Executive Vice President, Administrative Services Brock. "We have sent a notification of termination letter."
The new student center is the last major project funded by Measure A, a bond passed by voters in 2004.
Delays have been a problem from the start.
Weather delays slowed construction at the start, but the delays kept adding up.
By late last year, it was becoming obvious college officials were starting to lose their patience with the contractor.
“We’ve changed schedulers and superintendents a couple of times but we still have some concerns. We have had to keep pushing them to put a more realistic time schedule," McMurray told the Measure A Oversight Committee in November 2017.
McMurray said there were a few delays early on caused by wet weather and “surprises” once earth was moved. And the Department of State Architecture was at times slow in its approval mechanism.
Subcontractors – 29 or 30 of them – can also contribute to delays, McMurray said.
“There have been some logistical problems and we have had to make them redo things if it doesn’t meet our expectations.”
Two months later, the patience came to an end.
The West Kern Community College Board approved several change orders in the project and that set a hard completion date of Oct. 18 and set cash penalties on Cal Averland if the job wasn't done.
Cal Averland was going to pay up to $7,500 per day after Oct. 18 if the job wasn't substantially complete.
Now the project is on hold.
The taxpayers won't be on the hook, though.
McMurray said Averland was required to post a surety bond when it was awarded the contract and completion of construction will be funded through it.