Coos County was moving forward with installing a natural gas pipeline from the I-5 corridor to the coastal communities for Northwest Natural Gas. A contractor was hired to install 88 miles of 12” steel pipe over 188 stream crossings, 3 major wetlands and 2 rivers. Ongoing disputes between the County and the contractor over progress, quality control and cost led to the contractor walking away from the project.
John Costello, Vice President of Owner’s Representative Services for Pinnell Busch, was hired by Coos County to rescue this project that had gone bad. He discovered that the original contractor had only completed work in the easiest sections of the 88-mile stretch. The complex elements of the project such as boring under rivers and dealing with difficult terrain had not been started. There were more problems: valve stations had not been fabricated, right of way had not been secured, regulatory agencies for two of the major lateral extensions to coastal communities had not approved the alignments, rural county roads that had been torn up had yet to be reconstructed, and stream crossings required remediation.
Acting for the County, Pinnell Busch hired a new team consisting of a replacement project design engineer, field inspectors and testing agencies to assure the quality of the new lines going in, as well as to inspect the pipe already in place. Natural gas pipelines are potentially dangerous, so they are required to undergo rigorous third party inspection and comply with industry standards.
John worked with the US Forest Service, DEQ, local tribal leaders, and local environmentalists to remediate stream crossing violations. He also oversaw the remainder of the work, from evaluation of the project status, to the completion of contract documents, screening of pipeline contractors and selection of the completion contractor.
There is no question that John’s open style of communication, collaborative attitude and selection of an exemplary new team steered the project onto the correct path and led to successful completion. He played an integral role in regaining the confidence of the county residents and commissioners, the government, and private land owners.
After successful completion of the project, John served as the County’s expert witness in litigation. He successfully helped to obtain positive judgements for the County on approximately $22 million in damages, claims, and counter-suits from the original contractor.
Northwest Natural Gas was cautious regarding the new team at the outset, but in the dedication ceremony stated that they had never experienced such a turnaround in the quality and speed of work as was experienced at the conclusion of the Coos County Pipeline.