The Metro Transit Authority declined yesterday to give its usual quick approval to a new contract for the Bechtel Corporation, the consultant that supervises construction work for the subway.
Board members cited such unpleasant recent memories as the construction accident that caused the flooding of the Metro Blue Line and the improperly placed steel that caused the Cheverly Station concrete canopy to sag.
The board deferred for one week approving Bechtel's $19 million contract for the next calendar year and asked Metro staff for a memorandum on how construction controls would be tightened and what recourse Metro would have to recoup losses.
Roy T. Dodge, Metro's assistant general manager for design and construction, told the board that the contract could not wait forever because an application for federal money to help pay Bechtel after Jan. 1 must go forward almost immediately.
"Hundreds of things have been done right and received no notice Dodge told the board. "Bechtel is taking steps to tighten control. On the whole I consider management to be satisfactor."
Dodge told a reporter later that "Bechtel is my agent in the field, and I'm looking to them to defend me there: we can't have this as an adversary proceding."
Dodge also was asked by Alexandria Mayor Frank Mann why an outside consultant was even needed to supervise construction. Dodge promised to get back to the board next week.
Dodge said yesterday that a combination of federal studies, environmental studies and grant delays have dramatically slowed the pace of Metro construction.
The dollar value of construction under way has dropped from $514 million in 1975 to $352 million in 1976 to $127 million in 1977. Dodge said. As a result, Bechtel is taking a 30 per cent reduction in its contract, Dodge said.
The board yesterday also approved the payment of a $5.2 million cost overrun in laying track on the sections of the Blue Line now operating. The reasons for the overrun and the possibility of recouping some of that from contractors who preceded the track-laying team were presented to the board in executive session. There was almost no public debate.
The board also adopted a resolution that endorses the concept of regional taxes to pay for the costs of building the subway and operating the bus and subway systems.
The board earlier had endorsed such a program in principle and has been moving forward gingerly in an effort to create public support for a program that would take Metro costs off the property tax bill.
Generally, the Metro resolution suggests that Virginia, Maryland and District of Columbia officials should come up with their own tax packages. Ideally, such a program should be in place to pay for Metro in the fiscal year beginning next July 1 and should cover the bus and subway operating deficit and the debt service on Metro's revenue bonds. It could also be used as the local matching share for construction and equipment purchases.