Marriott, bridge projects contrast
I'm sure many of us have had the opportunity to watch a number of public works projects and wonder in amazement at the complexity and sheer intricacy of the task facing the contractors and engineering firms.
On Marco we have the opportunity to be "sidewalk superintendents" on two such projects, and from what I've observed so far, the management of both projects stand in stark contrast with each other.
The first project involves the replacement of the two spans that make up the Smokehouse Bay Bridge project. That project is being done by a contractor not unknown to the city or its residents, and which was awarded the contract through the competitive bidding process.
Although the city, (in addition to the engineering company employed to oversee the project) is onsite each day, their presence is directly related to ensuring the bridge is built in adherence to the contractual specifications and quality standards.
They have nothing to do with ensuring the project is done on time. That responsibility lies solely with the contractor.
At the outset of the project I was pleased to see that work seemed to be on schedule. This is not a simple project, as it does require coordination between a number of utility agencies which have vital wiring, piping, digital cables and electric lines that are part of the total scope of the project. Adequate planning and organization on the part of the contractor were to be part of the global understanding of that project. Excuses after the fact are kind of hard to fathom, as the contractor is about 75 days behind schedule.
In addition, ensuring the quality of vendor supplied material should have been a portion of the planning by the contractor. This would insure that upon delivery of structural materials that the city's representatives were not the ones to discover and ultimately demand rejection of flawed structural components, and there is no excuse for this delay.
The coordination of work being done in the field and the proper allocation of personnel to ensure a project of this magnitude and importance to the community should have be front and center on the contractor's priority list. Seeing little or no activity on countless occasions on a project that has received so much attention and scrutiny, is hard to comprehend.
Now that the southbound span has been opened and work is to begin on the dismantling of the old northbound spans, we can only hope that we see an improved level of progress on the work to be done. Failure to do so will exact severe financial pain to the contractor when it comes to liquidated damages in late fee penalties that the city manager and council will impose, amongst other penalties.
A short way down Collier Boulevard, we are witnessing the skilled and high-tech precision that marks the Marriott renovation. Phase I of the project required a 90- day shutdown of hotel facilities. Failure to execute their plan on schedule would most certainly have devastating effects on the operation of the facilities going forward.
They have mobilized a force of about one thousand workers, have arranged the feeding of those personnel onsite so as to not lose valuable work time, and have begun a multi-pronged attack of their project on several fronts.
They have also arranged for housing for the expanded workforce for at least a year to ensure they will be no delays due to lack of personnel.
Each worker entering the job site has an assigned duty, reports to his team and there is little if any productive time lost in their workday.
The work on the east side of Collier Boulevard is proceeding a breakneck speed, as are improvements to the roadway in front of the facility and the laying in of new utilities across Collier Boulevard. The privacy wall that was promised to the abutting mixed use property to the north of that parking area has already been constructed.
Demolition of the older and outdated ballroom areas has been undertaken and work is proceeding on the updating of the front portico area and its driveways.
Inside the hotel the lobby is being redone, the popular restaurant venues are being gutted, refitted and redecorated. Expanded outside venues and deck areas are also being constructed, in addition, the erection of a 10,000 square-foot environmentally friendly function tent is being installed. This area will be used to help with overflow event planning due to the loss of function areas inside during the construction of the new facility.
This project is a $250 million undertaking that will transform a stunning property in the Marriott inventory of resort vacation destinations into the Crown Jewel of their inventory, and the rebranding of the facilities to a JW Marriott, and a premier world destination resort.
Our contractor on the bridge could take a lesson from the mobilization of workers and the prioritizing of the work to be done on the south end of the island, and apply some of those lessons to the bridge project on the north end.
The city's personnel and the engineering firm onsite will ensure we get a well-built bridge; it is the contractor's job to insure we see it completed in our lifetime.