Price tag jumps for new police station

Construction has just begun on Lacombe’s police station and it has already gone over budget. Oversights and a little bad luck pushed the price tag up by $300,000 for the $8.5-million station being built on the city’s east side at 53rd Avenue and Wolf Creek Drive.

Construction has just begun on Lacombe’s police station and it has already gone over budget.

Oversights and a little bad luck pushed the price tag up by $300,000 for the $8.5-million station being built on the city’s east side at 53rd Avenue and Wolf Creek Drive.

The first sign of trouble came when a decades-old unmapped borrow pit filled with several metres of black dirt was found on the site. Nine bore holes were drilled as part of a geothechnical assessment but just missed finding the pit full of soil, which is unsuitable for building upon.

It cost about $110,000 to remove the soil and replace it with material suitable for building on.

A second problem arose when a water line was unexpectedly discovered running through the middle of the site. No easement existed on city plans indicating a water line, which also went undetected by engineers and city staff because of other miscues.

Moving the line will cost about $160,000.

Another $26,000 needs to be spent on unplanned drainage upgrades.

Lacombe infrastructure services director Matthew Goudy said there had been some “overlapping oversights” that led to the late changes to the project.

“No matter what, we would have had to move the (water) line and would have incurred those costs. But it should have been known ahead of time,” said Goudy.

Even with the additional costs, the site chosen is the best option. It was city-owned land, saving the roughly $1 million it would cost to buy a similar chunk of land on the open market.

“What we thought was no cost has turned out to be about a $300,000 cost. Although it was an unexpected cost, it’s still much, much lower than if we had to go out and buy land,” he said.

Goudy said the city has improved its procedures and reorganized its data base so utility lines won’t be overlooked in the future.

As far as the borrow pit goes, a full geotechnical assessment was undertaken that normally would have turned up the problem at the outset.

“You can only drill so many bore holes,” he said. The dirt still would have had to be replaced in any case.

Council voted on Monday to borrow an additional $300,000, on top of $2.4 million previously approved, to cover the cost overrun. It was decided that a $145,000 contingency fund would be left intact rather than using it all so early in construction.