Storm blows up city project bids
The effects of Hurricane Katrina were evident in De Soto last week with the opening of bids on two city projects.
Bids for the extension of the 8-foot Lexington Avenue sidewalk from Commerce Drive to the west Y and those for drainage improvements south of De Meadows came in significantly higher than engineering consultants' estimates, causing at least a month delay in the start of the projects and raising some doubt about their completion this year.
The drainage project also includes an extension of the Kill Creek Streamway Park from an area near Huhtamaki to Lexington Avenue. Although the Johnson County Parks and Recreation will pay for that part of the project, it was bid with the drainage work in the hopes of realizing savings on a joint project.
The lowest bid for the Lexington Avenue sidewalk extension was $42,000 more than the city's $152,000 budget. Of that total, $100,000 was to come from the city's 2005 community development block grant.
A pedestrian tunnel under the Sunflower railroad spur was once proposed for the Lexington Avenue sidewalk extension. It was thought its elimination for safety reasons would give the city more than enough money to complete the project.
The low bid from Olathe's Trinity Excavating for the combined drainage, streamway project was $351,000. The city's portion for the drainage work had a low bid of $178,580. Factoring in previous engineering costs, the city's total cost for the project would be $216,000, which is about $37,000 more than is available.
Making the bids all the more disappointing was interest contractors had in the projects. De Soto city engineer Mike Brungardt said both projects drew eight bidders.
Uncertainties and higher fuel prices in the wake of Hurricane Katrina was responsible for the high bids, Brungardt suggested. Further evidence of the contractor jitters could be seen in the spread of bids received, he said.
Bids for the drainage/sidewalk project varied greatly, with the high bid being nearly $200,000 higher than that submitted by Trinity.
The situation was much the same with the sidewalk projects, which had a $138,000 spread between low and high bids.
Although Brungardt said it might be worthwhile to re-bid the projects with the hope bids would decrease as the initial shock of Katrina passes, the city's contract engineer with Shafer, Kline and Warren advised against such action because of the uncertain construction environment and what seemed an attractive bid from Trinity.
Bill Maasen of the Johnson County Parks and Recreation Department said the county was prepared to go ahead with the streamway extension at the bid cost if the city moved forward on the drainage portion of the project.
Brungardt will ask the De Soto City Council for the authority to negotiate with the low bidders on both projects with the goal of bringing down costs, although he admitted there seemed to be little to cut from the sidewalk project. If the council OKs that action, Brungardt would report back to the council Oct. 6.
The city did receive some good news last week. Brungardt said the contractor for several late summer and fall street construction projects has learned it wouldn't face shortages of asphalt. LRM Industries Inc. the winning bidder for the re-alignment of the east Y, rebuilding of Waverly and Rik-Mar roads and the final paving of Commerce Drive, had expressed concern about spot shortages of asphalt in the days following the hurricane.