Unsung Heroes of the Washington Public Works Community: The APWA Division 1 Subcommittee

Plugged in as I am to the greater Washington State public works community, I’ve had many opportunities over the years to see and to experience the dedication and – well, the devotion – of public works professionals to their craft. They truly do go beyond and above the call of duty and their paychecks. In an ongoing, but intermittent, series of blog entries over the next few months, I hope to recognize groups and individuals in the public works community deserving of recognition.

In this blog, I want to recognize the long-running and on-going contribution and dedication of the Washington State Chapter of the American Public Works Association (APWA), Division 1 Subcommittee, which is prompted by this recent email from Gretchen Johnson (KBA) regarding Division 1 General Special Provisions (GSP):

Thanks to Theresa Schreier of WSDOT, the Std. Specs/GSPs webpage has cool new tools:

  • A pdf of the current Standard Specifications with the Amendments to date inserted in tracked changes
  • A master pdf document of all the GSPs merged together (to aid in key word searches and reviewing)
  • And of course, this page is where you can download a Word document of all Amendments to date to insert in your Bid Documents.

Thanks to Bill Linton, attorney at Inslee Best; Steve Palmer, bond broker at K&P; and Dave Mounts and Stacie Kelsey at WSDOT H&LP (and some help from yours truly), we now have separate Performance and Payment Bonds, each for 100% of the contract price, approved for use on FHWA-funded projects, and usable for all projects. They are part of the WSDOT e-forms package now, with pdf files also available at http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/forms/. See form #s 272-002A EF Local Agency Performance Bond, and 272-003A EF Local Agency Public Works Payment Bond.  Some notes:

  1. These bond forms will also be available on our Committee website, in Word format, so you can download and fill in agency names, etc.
  2. If you do not have FHWA/federal funding, you will need to delete one phrase and one RCW citation from the Payment Bond – they are flagged in the Word versions – they make the bond cover what is normally covered by 5% retainage on a locally funded project.

But before we laud the Subcommittee, a brief history lesson is necessary. The Washington Chapter of APWA has long been a strong proponent and supplier of standard specifications and drawings for public works projects for local agencies.  The Chapter’s standard specifications governed municipal construction in the 60s and 70s through several editions (the last one was in 1981) and became entrenched in city/county/district codes and boilerplate project specifications. (MRSC has a copy of the 1973 edition.) At the same time, however, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) published their own standard specifications for road and bridge construction on state highways.  Local agency projects using state and federal funds also had to use the WSDOT version.  As you can imagine, this was somewhat frustrating and confusing for public works professionals and contractors alike.

After some ten years of discussion and collaboration, WSDOT and APWA agreed to publish a joint version of what is known as the Standard Specifications for Road, Bridge and Municipal Construction, of which the first edition was published in 1983.  Local agencies soon realized, however, that the procedures in the WSDOT Standard Specifications, General Conditions (Division 1) weren’t applicable to many of their projects, as well as not always being compatible with state laws and procedures for local agencies.

Therefore, the APWA-WA Construction Standards Committee, Division 1 Subcommittee, was formed.  They developed a set of General Conditions that modified the WSDOT General Conditions for Local Agency use on all projects, including FHWA-funded projects.  The Division 1 Subcommittee is a standing committee, open to anyone who is interested in contributing.  The Subcommittee develops specifications that modify or add to the WSDOT Division 1, applies for approval for use on FHWA-funded projects, and keeps existing specifications up-to-date.

  • The first version of the local agency GSPs, in 1988, was issued as a separate booklet.
  • Then, from 1991 through 2004, Division “1-99” was included in the main Standard    Specifications book, and included only the specifications modifying the WSDOT version.
  • In 2005, by mutual decision of APWA-WA and WSDOT, the  Subcommittee converted the specifications into separate Local Agency General Special Provisions (GSPs), available for download from the Internet.

Now back to the laudation.

Go to the Subcommittee’s webpage, at http://www.apwa-wa.org/committee.aspx?id=5 and you will be amazed at the level of activity. Their mission statement alone is exhausting:

  • Network with local agencies to assess and address current construction contracting issues in relation to Division 1/General Conditions & Requirements
  • Develop and update General Special Provisions (GSPs) to meet Local Agency needs and input that complement Division 1 of the WSDOT/APWA Standard Specifications
  • Obtain pre-approval of Division 1 GSPs for FHWA-funded projects, aided by WSDOT Highways & Local Programs staff

The subcommittee, led by long-time co-chairs Gretchen Johnson and Kristina Nelson, meets five times a year at various locations across the state and at the bi-annual conferences.  There are 14 or so regular committee members and about as many interested non-official members who follow the committees’ activities enthusiastically.  In addition to their own heavy workload, the subcommittee and its individual members collaborate with other APWA committees to co-sponsor and speak at training sessions.

Current Division 1 Subcommittee members are:

  • Craig Aldworth, City of Spokane Valley
  • Sherry Arcineaga, Port of Seattle /CASC co-chair
  • Pat Baughman, Pierce County
  • Maura Donoghue, City of Seattle
  • Gretchen Johnson, KBA, Inc.
  • Bill Linton, Inslee Best
  • Lori McFarland, Otak, Inc.
  • David Mounts, WSDOT Headquarters, H&LP
  • Tamara Nack, Gray & Osborne, Inc.
  • Tina Nelson, Kitsap County Roads
  • Derek Pohle, Grant County PWD, Ephrata
  • Scott Sawyer, Shea Carr Jewell
  • Stephanie Seibel, City of Olympia
  • Diane Sheesley, Thurston County

So, a tip of our collective hats to the unsung heroes of the APWA Division 1 Subcommittee!!!! Thanks for all you do for us.

About John W. Carpita, PE

Public Works Consultant John is MRSC’s resource for engineering design, purchasing and bidding issues, contract document preparation, construction contract issues, local improvement districts, sewer, water, storm drainage and solid waste issues, as well as resource conservation. He’s a registered professional engineer and has had a widely varied 42-year career as a consultant, county engineer, city engineer and project manager.
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