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RE: Earthwork specifications and the Geotechnical Engineer

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In my opinion, the Geotechnical Engineer should make "recommendations" for
fill materials and construction methods but the EOR should be responsible
for writing those requirements into the contract documents. As others have
noted, the geotechnical report is generally not written in mandatory
specification language and may include alternatives for the EOR to choose
from; and in some cases the EOR may use other alternatives not directly
addressed in the geotechnical report. 

The geotechnical reports I have seen generally recommend that the
Geotechnical Engineer be given an opportunity to "review the final plans and
specifications prior to their release for bidding". I think that this is a
good idea - but I find it inconsistently applied in practice. It seems that
budgets and schedules are tight near issue for bidding and this step often
seems to be skipped. 

I have seen a number of ways to refer to the geotechnical report in contract
documents:

1. By general reference in drawing or spec notes, listing title of report,
date, and the name of the soil's firm which prepared the report. 

2. With a statement that the geotechnical report is available in the
Engineer's office for review by appointment. 

3. Inclusion of soil borings in the specs or on a drawing but without the
written "recommendations" of the Geotechnical Engineer. 

4. Inclusion of the full geotechnical report as an Appendix, generally
stated to be for "reference" but not part of the Contract documents (but
occasionally specifically stated to be a part of the contract documents). 

I feel that item 1 is the "minimum" one should do but is too vague as to
what the Contractor is to do about the information. Item 2 is what I've seen
the most often, although I question why the information is not included in
the published contract documents - if you want the bidders to properly
evaluate the subsurface conditions, why not include the necessary
information in the documents provided to them? Item 3 lets the Contractor
see the subsurface conditions and make their own judgments regarding
conditions - this initially appears to be a good solution, but the full
report usually provides additional valuable information that may be
relevant. Thus, I prefer item 4 including the statement that the report in
the Appendix is not part of the contract documents. This ensures that the
bidders have all relevant information readily at hand but cannot cite the
report as allowing deviations from the contract documents. 


William C. Sherman, PE
CDM, Denver, CO
Phone: 303-298-1311
Fax: 303-293-8236
email: shermanwc(--nospam--at)cdm.com


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