Category: Public Construction Contracting

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WSBA Construction Section Annual Seminar – June 9, 2017

On June 9, 2017, my colleague, Karl Oles, and I (both from the Seattle office of Stoel Rives) will present at the annual meeting and seminar for WSBA’s Construction Section, which this year is entitled Washington Statutes Affecting Construction.  This seminar, located at the WSBA Conference Center in Seattle, will feature in-depth discussions regarding important … Continue Reading

Design-Build Certification

One should never stop learning, so next week I will attend a three-day seminar presented by the Design-Build Institute of America. If I complete the seminar and pass a test, I will become a Designated Design-Build Professional.  The DBIA has an informative page about certification on its website. In preparation for the seminar, I completed … Continue Reading

Idaho Reads Force Majeure Clause Broadly as Written

In a ruling supporting common sense, the Idaho Supreme Court ruled that a county could not avoid the application of a broad force majeure clause in its development agreement with a developer based on the county’s denial of the rezoning required for the very development. The key facts in Burns Concrete, Inc. v. Teton County, … Continue Reading

Joint Washington/Oregon Construction Law Seminar – November 4, 2016

On November 4, 2016, my colleague, Andrew Gibson (from the Portland office of Stoel Rives), and I will co-chair a joint OSBA/WSBA construction law CLE, entitled Two States of Construction Law: Working in Both Washington and Oregon, located at the Heathman Lodge in Vancouver, Washington. This seminar will include a panel of knowledgeable lawyers with … Continue Reading

Subcontractor Costs May Become Public Record in Federal Aid Contracts

Contractors who bid on public projects that utilize federal money  can be surprised by additional administrative requirements they do not usually find in their contracts.  In my recent article for the Daily Journal of Commerce, I discuss one of those requirements that may require you to disclose  subcontractor agreements, and what you can do to … Continue Reading

Construction Successes in the Seattle Area

It seems that lawyers spend a lot of time dealing with problems and crises, but it is healthy to celebrate successes as well. Here are a few things around Seattle that we can celebrate. Sound Transit continues its expansion of the light rail system. The station next to Husky Stadium opened in March, connecting folks … Continue Reading

“From, For, and Against”: What’s the Difference?

Indemnity provisions are often among the most negotiated and least understood provisions of commercial contracts, and construction contracts are no exception to this rule. Despite, and perhaps because of, the importance of these clauses, they have evolved into an almost impenetrable jumble of legal terminology. This jumble of words is not, however, without meaning. Although … Continue Reading

Contractors Are Running into Unexpected Trouble as Local Air Quality Management Districts Stretch the Limits of Their Authority

It has long been the case that the California Air Resources Board (“ARB”) and each of California’s local Air Quality Management Districts (“AQMDs”) may regulate sources of portable emissions. However, about two decades ago, the legislature recognized that it was often impractical and too costly for businesses traveling throughout the state to acquire permits for … Continue Reading

Court of Appeals affirms Brightwater judgment, reviews law regarding differing site conditions and surety obligations

Brightwater Construction.jpgOn November 9, 2015, Division One of the Court of Appeals affirmed a 2012 King County trial court judgment that joint-venture tunneling contractor Vinci Construction Grands Projets/Parsons RCI/Frontier-Kemper (VPFK) was liable to King County for $144 million in damages and attorney fees. The case arose from the Brightwater project, a wastewater treatment plant north of … Continue Reading

Public Contracting Code Reminders

Developing public projects in Oregon requires an understanding of the Oregon Public Contracting Code and the complexities of procurement requirements. In my recent article for the Daily Journal of Commerce, I discuss four facets of public contracting that can help you successfully navigate the procurement terrain.  Read the full article here. “Public Contracting Code Reminders” was … Continue Reading

Freedom to Contract: PUC Has Jurisdiction to Evaluate Force Majeure Clause Under Idaho Law

The Idaho Supreme Court recently determined in Idaho Power Company v. New Energy Two, LLC, No. 40882-2013 (Idaho June 17, 2014), that the Idaho Public Utilities Commission has jurisdiction to interpret or enforce contracts when given the authority by the parties. In May 2010, IPC and the defendants entered into two energy contracts that were … Continue Reading

Contractors Still Have Time: Certain CA Energy-Related Regulations Delayed to July 1, 2014

Residential and non-residential contractors in California have been waiting for the new California energy-related regulations to be issued for the January 1, 2014 compliance deadline.  Although many became effective on January 1, delays in the software performance compliance programs by the California Energy Commission required that additional time be provided for contractors to obtain and … Continue Reading

Seattle Tunneling Machine Bertha Makes National News

The City of Seattle is replacing the two-level highway viaduct that dominates the downtown shoreline with a two-level tunnel. A very large tunnel boring machine, named Bertha in honor of an early Seattle mayor, has been excavating the tunnel for several months. In December, Bertha encountered an unknown obstruction and came to a halt. Seattleites … Continue Reading

SB 254A and Oregon’s CMGC Rules Are Overblown

Oregon Senate Bill 254A and the CMGC method generally garner more attention than is justified. Here is the background. On a typical non-CMGC project, the general contractor will bid on a complete or nearly complete set of design documents. This is referred to as “design-bid-build.” In public construction, competitive bidding is required by statute to reduce expenditure of … Continue Reading

When Is a Private Project a Public Work for Prevailing Wage Application in California?

In recent years, the Department of Industrial Relations (“DIR”), the Legislature and the California courts have expanded the application of the prevailing wage law to projects through the broad definition of a “public works,” beyond what most contractors, owners and even counsel would expect.  While most involved in construction anticipate that any work directly for, … Continue Reading

Contractor’s “Wage Theft” Enforcement Increased on California Public Projects

The California Labor Commission, also known as the Department of Labor Standards Enforcement, which is a division of the Department of Industrial Relations, is “reinvigorating” its enforcement actions against public contractors that try to dodge the state’s wage and labor laws. Recently, the Commission issued orders and hefty fines to nine contractors for violations totaling over … Continue Reading

Local Contracting Agencies Now Prohibited from Using Price As Basis for Awarding Certain Consultant Contracts

Oregon’s legislature recently changed ORS 279C.110 to require all public agencies, both state and local, to use qualifications as the basis for awarding contracts for architectural, engineering, photogrammetric mapping, transportation planning and land surveying services.  Before the change, local contracting agencies could use price as a basis for award but state agencies could not.  Once … Continue Reading

Another Interesting Project in Seattle

I previously told you about some upcoming Seattle tunneling projects. Here now is a link to artist renderings of the new SR 520 floating bridge project, which will raise the existing bridge up above the pontoons, making space for maintenance works and storm water treatment and fire suppression utilities underneath: www.flickr.com/photos/wsdot/6871707294/in/set-72157629307832804/   The photo site has links … Continue Reading

Oregon’s Prompt Pay Acts Strengthened and Clarified in 2012

Parties to construction contracts take notice:  the legislature enacted new consequences and contract restrictions to Oregon’s Prompt Pay Acts starting in 2012.                On public improvement contracts first advertised or solicited on or after May 28, 2012, the newly revised Act (a) changes the interest penalty rate for a prime contractor’s failure to make timely payment … Continue Reading

Keep An Eye On This Major Seattle Project

On January 6, 2011, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) signed a contract with Seattle Tunnel Partners for the biggest piece of the SR 99 Viaduct replacement project, the 1.7 mile long tunnel carrying traffic from the south end of the Seattle waterfront to near the Seattle Center.  This is a design-build contract with … Continue Reading

Be careful what you ask for Idaho

In the last two decades, the Idaho State Legislature has authorized design-build contracting for many different types of public projects. It appears that the Legislature will continue this trend for highway projects. In February, a House committee voted to print a bill that would allow the Idaho Transportation Department (IDT) to award design-build contracts for highway projects.  … Continue Reading

Government Involvement Has Consequences (Part 2)

Here is list of laws that may apply to projects in which the federal government is involved. These reflections about government involvement are prompted by recent changes to the Federal Acquisition Regulations that give federal contractors an affirmative duty to disclose any “credible evidence” that comes to their attention of (a) the violation of certain criminal … Continue Reading

Government Involvement Has Consequences (Part 1)

In an effort to stimulate the economy, federal and state government agencies are seeking to promote new construction projects. This trend of government involvement in construction projects is likely to continue. When the government is involved, it is important to know whether this involvement causes public contracting laws to apply. Governmental involvement in a construction … Continue Reading

A sign of hope: rental car garage at Sea-Tac to proceed

Puget Sound Business Journal reported this week that the Port of Seattle has announced that it will re-commence work on its 23-acre, $419 million dollar rental car facility at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.  The project was put on hold in December 2008 due to the anemic long-term bond market.  According to the Port, it has now … Continue Reading
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