Diamond Drive Phase 3 to be discussed at meeting

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By Jennifer Garcia

Warm weather is right around the corner and construction of Phase 3 on the Diamond Drive project will soon be in full swing.

Residents will get the chance to have the project explained to them in a meeting at the golf course on Monday at 6 p.m. The Public Works Department will host the question and answer session, which will walk residents through the project and give them a chance to voice their concerns and ask questions about what the project will entail.

Public Works Director Kyle Zimmerman will give the presentation and Lead Project Manager Rey Gonzales, along with Ernesto Gallegos and Ted Garcia of the Public Works Department will also be present. In addition, a representative from RMCI Inc. will be there.

“We’re holding the meeting because it’s been a while since that portion of the project has been shown to the public,” Zimmerman said. “Our goal is to let people see what construction work is going to be done this summer and let them ask questions and express concerns. We’ll see if there are ways to address some of these things before we have the preconstruction meeting with the contractor,” he said.

County council awarded the bid for the Diamond Drive Phase 3 construction to RMCI, a contractor based in Albuquerque. The award was in the amount of $4.91 million, plus applicable gross receipts tax.

This is the first Diamond Drive phase that will be worked on by RMCI. AS Horner, also based in Albuquerque, constructed the previous two phases. RMCI submitted the lowest bid during the bidding process and was chosen as a result, though AS Horner also submitted a bid for the project.

Zimmerman is hopeful that Phase 3 will go better than Phase 2 did. Diamond Drive Phase 2 was marred with problems because of issues with the contractor. In addition, the county’s management of projects was questioned during the March 24 county council meeting. At that meeting, Councilor Robert Gibson said, “This kind of project is inherently disruptive. We’ve experienced a number of projects like this over the years that have taken fare more inconvenience than it should have.”

He also said that council and residents have heard ideas of various things that staff will try to do better.

“But I don’t see any recognition for the need for how we manage these projects. It appears that we’re in the mode of continuing to do things the way we’ve always done them and expect a different result. How are we supposed to have confidence that this project will be done on time?”

County Administrator Max Baker replied to Gibson’s questions. He started out by saying that he disagrees with Gibson in terms of lessons learned.

“Kyle and I have talked a lot about this. We recognized that it (Phase 2) didn’t go as well as it should have. I hope that the community and council realize that there will be some issues and we’ll address these issues in a timely way. We’ve done things in the contract that will help us,” he finished.

“There were issues with the contractor and problems with how the county managed the project,” Zimmerman said. “We’re taking steps (to improve the process) and have added additional staff to oversee the contractor,” he continued. Zimmerman also said that the county intends to hold the contractor accountable in regard to the specifications in the contract. One example is imposing fines on the contractor if workers cause traffic delays that last for more than 10 minutes at a time. He said that a fine of $1,000 per hour would be charged to the contractor, or $500 per half hour or any portion thereof would also be imposed.

Zimmerman, so far, is optimistic about Phase 3 construction.

“I met with the contractor this week and I’m encouraged,” he said. He also pointed out that RMCI’s project superintendent just finished the San Mateo storm drainage project in Albuquerque, during which storm drains were installed and issues that included utility conflicts and access to businesses were also addressed. “Everything with that project is in line with what we’re doing here,” Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman and his staff will hold a closed meeting with the contractor prior to construction getting underway. He has to wait for RMCI to get their bonds and insurance prepared. He expects to receive the contracts from RMCI by the middle of next week.