This town has decided to delay one capital project and the construction portion of another to minimize the amount of savings needed to carry out the first phase of stormwater improvement work on Yates Place.
By doing so, Zebulon plans to use $25,000 from its general fund balance to help complete the project, rather than burn through $120,000 of its savings to cover the shortfall caused by construction bids coming in well over budget.
On Yates Place, a residential road near the Wedgewood shopping center off West Gannon Avenue, water does not drain efficiently in the cul-de-sac at the lower end of the street. The result is flooding for some residents and a backup of standing water along the roadway during persistent rains.
Alleviating the issue calls for installing a dry detention pond below the cul-de-sac and installing more and larger piping to handle the load. When the work went out to bid, however, the lowest construction bid of $218,654 pushed the project over budget by $117,769. The entire project was estimated to cost $171,563, including construction, design and permitting.
Zebulon Public Works Director Chris Ray revisited reasons for the bid overages with commissioners at their Nov. 2 meeting. Those included limited availability of contractors; rising costs of concrete, grading and steel; and site conditions forcing the work within a matter of feet of a residence.
Commissioner Curtis Strickland said it seemed like a lot of money for a project “to turn the water away” from the street.
“It is a very expensive project there no doubt about that,” Ray said. “When you look at unit prices, I think the costs of grading and limiting numbers of contractors and increase in steel and concrete, it’s just what it is,” Ray said. “I agree with you – it’s a lot of money to complete that path.”
Commissioner Dale Beck asked Ray if he thought rebidding the project could lead to a lower price tag. Beck got the same response Ray gave him in October, when the town board was first notified of the shortfall.
“My history tells me if we go out and rebid this project, it will likely come back higher,” Ray said.
The town is delaying a project to overhaul its website, moving $10,000 budgeted for that work to the Yates Place project. Town staff said a new website would cost more than that amount, anyway.
The other $85,000 needed to erase the shortfall is coming from delaying part of the resurfacing funds for Wakefield Street. In the meantime, town leaders asked staff to use the remaining $30,000 in the Wakefield Street budget for a preliminary engineering report to look at drainage and resurfacing needs there.
“(A preliminary engineering report) is the first step of a design process if we were going to go forward with the project today,” Ray said. “It’s kind of making that first step, but not fully committing to the design yet. It kind of keeps the options open as we move forward.”
The town recently awarded the Yates Place project contract to the lowest bidder, La Grange-based Step Construction. Their bid was about $21,000 lower than the next lowest bid and $106,000 less than a third bid.
Ray said a pre-construction meeting is scheduled for Dec. 3.
“The goal of that meeting is to issue notice to proceed and the 90-day clock on construction starts counting,” Ray said.