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Contractor will pay to fix defective trusses at Duluth's Lincoln Park Middle School

The contractor responsible for defects in the support trusses for the Lincoln Park Middle School cafeteria ceiling has agreed to pay for repairs and for roof snow removal done this past winter.

The Duluth School Board will vote Tuesday to approve an agreement with Timber Systems of Lapeer, Mich., the company that designed the wooden trusses and their metal braces. LHB of Duluth, which hired Timber Systems, was the architect of the $50.6 million school that opened in 2012. The strength of the trusses wasn’t adequate to provide the level of safety needed to support the roof, said Kerry Leider, property and risk manager for the Duluth school district.

“There wasn’t any imminent hazard or danger, especially after the snow was removed,” he said. “It’s just that they didn’t achieve the safety factor required by code.”

A deformed brace was discovered in February, caused by the weight of the heavy snow that fell in the area over the winter. The district paid for temporary repairs at the time and for snow removal throughout the remainder of the season, at a cost of $40,667. Timber Systems has agreed to reimburse the district and pay for permanent repair work that started in July and has continued this month. That amount isn’t known, but the district won’t be billed, said Bill Hanson, business services manager for the district.

The sum paid to Timber Systems for its original work on the building was $521,532, according to change order documents. The repair work is expected to be finished this week. The cafeteria has been closed during the repairs.

This isn’t the first time a contractor has made repairs for work not done quite right for the district’s $315 million long-range facilities plan. Part of the outdoor track at East High School had to be redone in 2012 because of a design error. Other minor re-dos include loading docks and electrical wiring, Hanson said, when it wasn’t up to code.

For the size of the building project, he said, there have been only a handful of errors resulting in contractors redoing work, and they have paid for the repairs. The Lincoln Park matter has been the most serious, Hanson said, and it was addressed quickly.

Timber Systems has until 2016 to pay the $40,667, but Leider said it already has made the required repairs at its own expense, so the company is likely to pay it before then.