6-Inch Error in Laying Concrete Puts Alltel Arena Project Behind Schedule

by David Smith  on Monday, Mar. 31, 2014 12:00 am  

Senior project manager Art Hunkele: “We’re going to look back and recall that there was a problem, but we solved it.”

Those costs might grow when extra manpower is required to catch up on the project’s schedule. Instead of having workers earning overtime, Hunkele is considering hiring more workers to work different shifts. A problem, however, is that unemployment is so low that it is difficult for any contractors to find workers, even in neighboring states.

Work on Alltel Arena began in July 1997, and 10 weeks of contingency time were built into the schedule in anticipation of problems or delays, Hunkele says. But those 10 weeks already have been taken up because of, in part, “productivity problems,” he says.

Those problems began in March when precast bids were delayed two weeks because it appeared only one company would bid the job, Hunkele says. The company that won the bid was unable to deliver the precast until mid-May. Other delays came when some budget trimming ideas were being evaluated.

The bottom line now is that the overall job is about five weeks behind schedule, Hunkele says. Overall, the work in place is about 15 percent less than what Hunkele had hoped it would be now.

Foster says, “We’ve got more than a year to finish this thing. We can make up a lot of time in a year.”

Hunkele is confident various contractors will be able to make up the time.

“It is not insurmountable,” Hunkele says. “I would rather be playing more golf than worrying about solving those problems. But on opening night when everybody is sipping the bubbly, we’re going to look back and recall that there was a problem, but we solved it.”

Since Then ...

2014: The Verizon Arena — originally named the Alltel Arena — in North Little Rock will mark its 15th anniversary later this year, and most of that history has been remarkably smooth.

But getting there was shaky.

Arkansas Business would win national recognition for this scoop on a serious construction error that would set back progress and inspire litigation. (It’s also the only time the words “you bet your sweet bippy” were ever published in Arkansas Business.)

But the geometric mistake was only a taste of things to come. Sixteen months later, in October 1999, the inaugural event at the arena was canceled three hours befor the Los Angeles Lakers and the Washington Wizards were to tip off because project engineers discovered cracks in an upper-level “raker beam” that had been poured a year earlier.

Reinforcement columns were installed, and the arena has functioned as intended. But there was a lesson to be learned from the terms of the contract between the Pulaski County Multi-Purpose Civic Center Facilities Board and Vratsinas Construction Co./Turner Construction Co., which penalized late completion of the arena but didn’t penalize failure to report known construction defects.



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