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Council approves nearly $20M in changes to Lynx Blue Line contract

The Charlotte City Council approved Monday nearly $20 million in change orders to the $1.1 billion contract to build the Lynx Blue Line extension. In this photo, workers are building a retaining wall along N. Tryon St. in February 2014.
The Charlotte City Council approved Monday nearly $20 million in change orders to the $1.1 billion contract to build the Lynx Blue Line extension. In this photo, workers are building a retaining wall along N. Tryon St. in February 2014. tsumlin@charlotteobserver.com

The Charlotte City Council Monday approved a change order to the Lynx Blue Line contract in order to keep the $1.1 billion project on schedule.

The three contract amendments total $19.5 million. Earlier this year, the Charlotte Area Transit System needed a change order for $21 million, which council approved.

CATS said Monday that, despite the changes, the light-rail extension project still has $170 million in a contingency fund.

The transit system said the federal government only requires a $90 million reserve at this stage of the project.

“Our contingency levels are in good shape,” said Danny Rogers of CATS, who is managing the project. “This is about keeping the project on schedule. We’re trying for summer of 2017.”

The first change approved Monday is to increase a contract with Balfour Beatty Infrastructure/Blythe Development Company for $7.3 million. The city’s construction management contract with HNTB will be increased by $10 million, and a design and construction management contract with STV Inc. will go up by $2.2 million.

The city’s agreement with the federal government calls for the Federal Transit Administration to pay for half of the $1.1 billion project. The N.C. Department of Transportation will pay 25 percent and the city will pay the rest.

The city has 17 different construction contracts to build the 9-mile extension. Some contractors are waiting for others to complete work before they can start a job, so a delay can lead to a domino effect.

The city said if the contract changes weren’t approved, the project could face “significant delays.” That would jeopardize its contract with the federal government, the city said.

The city also said that businesses already impacted by road closures could have more construction-related problems.

The Lynx extension will connect uptown to UNC Charlotte. Much of the line will run in the median of North Tryon Street, and the construction is considered more complicated than the original Lynx Blue Line that opened in 2007.

If change orders grow and the project exceeds its contingency, the city would likely be on the hook for the cost increases. The state and federal share of the project is capped under the Full Funding Grant Agreement that was signed before construction began.

Harrison: 704-358-5160

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