DCN ARCHIVES

March 14, 2005

Focus is on simulated bridge contract

Workshops emphasize value of mediation

Engineers and architects are becoming role players in a series of jobsite dispute workshops designed to emphasize the value of mediation over litigation.

Insurance management firm Encon Group Inc. is conducting the workshops as part of its annual loss control seminars.

“With litigation you don’t win even when you do win,” said Encon assistant vice-president Stephen Panciuk at the company’s recent seminar in Mississauga.

The workshops deal with a simulated bridge contract that’s gone over budget, partly because of the engineer’s faulty measurements. It is based on an actual project.

The simulated $14.2-million project involves the rehabilitation of a series of bridges over a canal and roadway. Connecting two of the bridges is a 120-foot section over a top of a parking garage.

All of the stringer beams and some of the girders need to be replaced in the viaduct, in a staged construction program to allow continued use of the bridges.

Since the girders form the roof of the parking structure, it’s very difficult to get accurate measurements of the existing structure in order to design the replacement girders.

In the simulated project, three of the girders don’t fit when it comes time to install them.

As a result, the contractor claims an additional $166,690 above the contract price.

The audience is divided into three separate role-playing groups — owners, contractors and consultants.

Their objective is to present their case and reach a consensus.

All three groups have privileged information and realize there are flaws in their positions.

In the end, the mediators convinced the contractor to accept a compromise settlement of $80,000, the cost of which has to be shared equally by the owner and the consultant.

— Dan O’Reilly

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