- Associated Press - Thursday, March 26, 2015

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A contractor that is seeking an additional $18.1 million for work on a Fort Madison prison that was supposed to open last year has blamed repeated changes, conflicting directives and defective designs for problems with the project.

The Des Moines Register reported Thursday (https://dmreg.co/1xibdzQ ) that it reviewed documents filed by Walsh Construction, of Chicago, and responses by Shive-Hattery Architecture Engineering, of Des Moines, which also worked on the project.

Walsh Construction won the state contract in October 2010 for most of the work on the 800-bed prison by submitting a low bid of $116.9 million. The overall price of the maximum-security prison was once estimated at $132 million, but the latest estimate puts the total cost when completed at $166 million.

Walsh project manager Brian McGinty complained in an August 2014 letter to the Iowa Administrative Services Department that Shive-Hattery refused to accept any responsibility for the problems.

“Rather than embarking on a fair and equitable fact-finding mission, (Shive-Hattery) immediately dismisses any notion that its design might be the culprit and tries to shed the responsibility to Walsh and its subcontractors - all under the guise of looking after the interests of (the Department of Administrative Services),” McGinty said.

A Shive-Hattery team leader, Michael Lewis, said in a December 2014 letter that Walsh Construction had submitted some incorrect information to the state and made erroneous assumptions.

“Costs as submitted appear to be overstated and inflated,” Lewis said. “Adequate accounting records should be produced to verify costs for both the Contractor and Subcontractors.”

The maximum-security prison for male offenders in Fort Madison was expected to open last year. But shortly before more than 500 inmates were to transfer from the old prison down the road, workers discovered that the geothermal heating and cooling system didn’t work as intended and needed to be replaced. As that problem was being fixed, workers discovered that systems meant to control smoke in the event of fire were also faulty and required repairs.


Information from: The Des Moines Register, https://www.desmoinesregister.com

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