Archive for Thursday, October 5, 2006

Women’s Bridge’ bids are lower than expected

October 5, 2006

Renovation of the historic "Women's Bridge" on High Street will begin soon and it will be done cheaper than expected.

The Baldwin City Council got the good word at Monday's meeting when bids were presented for the project that had been estimated to cost $1.2 million, with the Kansas Department of Transportation providing 80 percent of the funding through a grant. The city funds the other 20 percent, plus design costs.

Darin Neufeld of EBH & Associates, the city's design consultant, unveiled the bids to the council.

"We had two bidders on the bridge project," said Neufeld. "They both came in low."

LRM Industries bid the project at $764,014.55. Wildcat Construction bid it at $875,394.50. The council approved the LRM bid.

Neufeld explained that when he estimated the project, he was using the high range of what contractors were telling him potential costs would be. For example, he would get bid ranges of $50 to $150 on items, so he'd use $150.

"I was consistently using the high end of the range and, luckily, they came in at the low end," he said.

The $764,000 bid means the city's share of the project will be $153,000, plus the design cost, which is $84,000.

The bid must now go to KDOT for approval, but Neufeld said he thought the project could begin in November.

"Both bidders have similar time frames," he said. "One said fall of '06 for a start and the other said fall of '06. It will take 100 days, or five months."

Council Member Ted Brecheisen Jr. expressed concern about the time frame.

"It's a main route for fire protection for west Baldwin," said Brecheisen. "We're going to have to go all the way to the highway to get there."

The "Women's Bridge" is on High Street between 10th and 11th streets. The only other bridge over the creek is on Grove Street. However, fire trucks are over the weight limit allowed on that bridge. While the project is under way, fire trucks will have to go to U.S. Highway 56 and then come down 11th Street. Neufeld did say that for much of the 100-day construction period that the bridge would probably be able to be used by emergency vehicles.

Another concern was raised by Council President Amy Cleavinger.

"What kind of risk are we taking starting this project this late weather wise?" said Cleavinger.

"With Kansas weather, you're taking a risk anytime," said Neufeld, adding that the contractor is capable of working around any problems caused by cold weather.

Cleavinger also asked City Administrator Jeff Dingman what the status of the downtown redevelopment project was. It was to have been done this year, but has been delayed for various reasons and is expected to begin in the spring.

"With the downtown project, we're revising it, scaling back in some areas and revisiting others," said Dingman. "We plan to do a public forum to show the changes and have it out for bids by the end of the year."

The council also met in executive session for 20 minutes to discuss personnel. Upon returning to regular session, the council voted unanimously to approve a raise for Dingman.

"We'd like to recognize his positive review and give him a 5 percent raise," said Council Member Nancy Brown.

The raise brings Dingman's salary to $76,400.

In other business, the council approved a bid for the asphalt overlay program by Killough Construction of Ottawa at $46.50 per ton for an estimated 1,583 tons of asphalt. A cereal malt beverage license was approved for Hickory Creek Barbecue, which is opening in the former location of Walt's Pizza.

Brown also told council members that the safety committee had reviewed the city's burning ordinance after a request by Cleavinger.

"We did go over the burning ordinance," said Brown. "At this point, we are not in a position to make any changes."

The ordinance that pertains to burning leaves, a long-standing tradition in Baldwin reads: "In that portion of the city outside the fire limits, it shall be lawful to burn leaves, straw, grass, or limbs under four inches in diameter in a careful manner so as not to endanger property and then only between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. and only after notification of the city public works' office of the intent to so burn."

The council also discussed the first of several public forums regarding the updated comprehensive plan for the city. The meeting is scheduled for 7 tonight at the American Legion Hall. There will also be a meeting Monday at 7 p.m. at the library regarding the county plan known as ECO2.

There is reason for optimism with the completion of a six-year effort by environmentalists and business leaders who have been working on the ECO2 plan, which is to guide how new industrial development and the preservation of critical pieces of open space can go hand in hand.

The group, which was appointed by the Douglas County Commission, has scheduled a series of public meetings this month to get comment on the plan before it is submitted to Lawrence city commissioners and county commissioners for possible adoption.

The major idea behind the ECO2 (pronounced Eco squared) plan is that every time the community invests money to create new industrial parks, it also will invest a corresponding amount to preserve open space in the county.

"It really creates more than just a promise that an investment in open space will happen, it creates a process to help ensure that it will," said Sandra Shaw, chairwoman of the ECO2 committee.

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