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Date of Issue: April 05, 2007

Bradenton Beach pier costs spike - again

The latest changes to the construction project on the Historic Bridge Street Pier in Bradenton Beach were obviously a bit more tasty to city commissioners, with costs coming in a bit under the anticipated amounts.

The commission took a big gulp last month and approved $167,501 in changes to the pier projects, which includes a new restaurant, dockmaster facility, bath house, bait and tackle shop and dockage at the soon-to-be pier complex at the east end of Bridge Street on Anna Maria Sound.

On March 27, commissioners approved another set of change orders to what will eventually - based on current estimates - be a $1,850,259 project.

The last batch of change orders included $9,300 for interior and rest room changes, $7,870 in plumbing alterations, and a reduction of water meter charges that amounts to less than what was formerly anticipated by an increase in those costs. The reduction of costs dropped the cost by $2,284.

Total change orders approved last week, in other words, was $14,886, which is a bit more than 11 percent over the original cost quotes for the renovations. However, the latest change orders were expected to be about $20,000, hence the small relief for some commissioners.

But not all.

"We're up to more than 10 percent over our contract," Vice Mayor John Shaughnessy said, "and that really upsets me.

"I'd be having the same concerns," said contractor representative Tom Edwards, with Southern Cross Contracting Inc. of Sarasota, "but a lot of this is being required [by other agencies] and is not just errors."

"I share that frustration," said Mayor John Chappie, "but we're responsible for the restaurant design changes."

Some of the previous changes and increased costs were due to unforeseen work that was needed - asphalt slabs and concrete found where only dirt was expected for laying utility lines and pipes, or changes made on the plans by other regulatory agencies after initial plans were presented and approved.

Other changes were made after consulting with the pier concessionaire, David Russell of Rotten Ralph's Waterfront Restaurant in Anna Maria, who will be running the food concession on the pier.

Edwards has said that a still-pending permit from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection caused his company to totally revamp the work schedule on the project. Initially, Southern Cross planned to do the restaurant first, then build the three separate, stand-alone buildings to the south of the pier proper. Now, he said, the dockmaster, bait and tackle structure and bath house would be first to go up.

The permit delay could cause an extension of the completion on the job, but all involved believed that once work gets fully under way, the deadline of Aug. 6 should not only be met but expedited for a July 4 opening date.

However, Edwards said that issues still loom on the project: an increase in the size of a grease trap is still being deliberated, as well as some underground utilities, trusses for the restaurant and perhaps other matters.