Archive for Thursday, December 7, 2006

Bittersweet extension cost estimates increase

December 7, 2006

Extending Bittersweet Street could cost significantly more than original estimates predicted, according to preliminary engineering plans.

During a special meeting Thursday, Nov. 30, Lansing City Council members learned about the potential cost increase to the project, which will create a bridge over Seven-Mile Creek and connect Bittersweet Street from Lansing Middle School to the site of the new Lansing Elementary School, scheduled for completion in December 2007.

The cost of the project will be split 50-50 with the Lansing school district.

John Young, director of public works, told the council a cost estimate based on preliminary engineering plans by Wilson & Co., the design consultant, suggests the price tag could go up as much as $628,000 from the original $1.5 million.

However, Young said, the engineering estimate was based on Kansas Department of Transportation bid estimates and bidding the project locally could potentially trim at least $230,000 from the estimated increase.

"We will be looking with the consultant at every possible way we can to trim that number down," he said. "We've already found some things just by the virtue of local costs versus KDOT average costs, which they're using for their cost estimate, that will trim a considerable amount out of that increase."

In a memo to City Administrator Mike Smith, Young wrote that part of the price increase, however, also could be attributed to the rising costs of asphalt, steel and fuel during the past year.

Mayor Kenneth Bernard said he had notified Lansing schools superintendent Randal Bagby and school board members about the potential price increase.

Bernard said they reacted with understanding.

"Really, I don't know whether we've got a lot of choice but to go forward at this point. We've got to get to a final number sometime," he said.

Council members voted 6-0 to proceed with the design of the road and bridge. Council members Dee Hininger and Harland Russell were absent from the meeting.

After the vote, Council member Andi Pawlowski told Young she had concerns about what might be trimmed from the project to keep costs down.

"We're not gonna trim things like sidewalks or any of that kind of stuff?" Pawlowski asked.

She told Young that eliminating sidewalks, for example, would defeat the project's goal of improving access between the schools.

Young told the council that wasn't his intention.

"We're not looking at amenities. We're looking at material costs : " he said.

Young told the council the preliminary figure was an estimate. The actual number, he said, would come when the project goes out for bid.

After the meeting, Young said the city was working toward a bid opening by mid-May and completion of the project by Christmas 2007.

Bagby, who did not attend the meeting, said he and the Lansing School Board appreciated the city's efforts to keep them informed of the project.

He said it was still early in the process and added that the Bittersweet project costs - much like construction projects at the schools - might also be trimmed by value engineering, a process of increasing value by choosing or declining options that improve function or reduce costs.

"I think it's too soon yet to assume it will be more, even though it's good information," Bagby said. "Should there be some increases, the school board and the city would want to have a discussion about it.

"There's no reason for alarm yet. We need to study it and look at it and let the city folks do their job."

TEMPORARY NOTES

Council members also passed a resolution, 6-0, to authorize the city to issue temporary notes for interim financing to pay expenses for the Bittersweet Street benefit district and the Conway Heights Subdivision improvement district.

Commerce Bank received the winning bid to finance a principal amount of $565,000, which comprises $148,500 for the design and potential right-of-way acquisition costs of the Bittersweet project, $403,045 for the Conway Heights project estimate and issuance costs.

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