SF officials: poor work history not affecting future contracting bids 

Contractors who miss deadlines, keep streets ripped up for extended periods of time or otherwise perform poorly can still easily get new contracts to do similar work elsewhere in The City, officials warned Monday.

Past contractor work performance currently isn’t considered when judging new bids for future work, leaving a strong chance for repeat poor performances that can disrupt residents’ lives, Supervisor Scott Wiener said. One example referenced was a Potrero Hill resident whose work-from-home situation was disrupted when a city-contracted subcontractor struck a transformer while digging and knocked out his Internet access.

“If they’re the low bidder, they get the project,” Wiener said. “That’s frustrating.”

Much digging — and resulting impacts on traffic and in some rare cases, workflow — has gone on in San Francisco in recent years, as The City uses up a $248 million repaving bond.

And much work will occur for the foreseeable future, as The City slowly replaces its entire water and sewer line infrastructure — an “unprecedented investment” in what makes San Francisco work, Wiener said.

“We’ve delayed vital infrastructure work for way too long,” he added.

Under city code, multiple city departments and private entities like PG&E are required to be notified if and when a street is to be dug up.

This is done so that all work — such as replacing sewer, water and gas lines — can be done all at once, rather than having a street closed off multiple times by workers contracted by different city departments.

While some work is done quickly and easily, some residents have expressed frustrations with excavation work that seems to never end.

City work crews do their best to coordinate with each other to make sure street digging isn’t repeated or left unfinished for long amounts of time, said Lynn Fong, a program manager with the Department of Public Works. But she noted sometimes “unforeseen” additional repair work can throw projects off schedule.

“The public doesn’t see that,” she said. “It’s all behind the scenes.”

Residents do have an additional resource to tap: they can monitor exactly what’s going on with their streets with DPW’s Envista mapping tool.

Fixing many holes

The streets of San Francisco were abuzz with road work last year.

4,000 work permits were issued in 2013

100 miles of roadways blocked or dug up

15 miles of streets repaved

15 miles of sewer and water lines replaced

23 miles of PG&E gas lines replaced

Source: Department of Public Works

About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has worked as a reporter in San Francisco since 2008, with an emphasis on city governance and politics, The City’s neighborhoods, race, poverty and the drug war.
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