Archive for Thursday, March 30, 2006

Main Street contractor to face tight deadlines

March 30, 2006

The Main Street System Enhancement project will be completed within the timeline developed by state transportation officials or money will start coming out of the lead contractor's wallet.

The Kansas Department of Transportation, in its proposed contract for the 3.7-mile project in Lansing, has included a "special provision" that will force the contractor to adhere to four date restrictions for work during the two-year project or be assessed "liquidated damages." The damages can amount from $1,000 to $6,000 per day, depending on the date restriction.

John Young, the city's Public Works director, welcomed the proposed contract's special provision.

"They wrote this just like we wanted it," Young said.

Basically, the special provision does away with parts of most KDOT contracts that allow for project delays due to weather and other factors. Instead, the contract delineates that "all work shall be completed by a specified calendar completion date."

"Anytime they have something that is time-sensitive, they'll do a calendar project," Young said, noting KDOT agreed with city officials it is critical to get the Main Street project completed as soon as possible.

Among the improvements are widening Main Street from Connie to Ida streets to include a center turn lane, rebuilding the bridge over 7-Mile Creek, reconstructing medians from Gilman Road to Ida Street and constructing a "reverse frontage road" north of West Mary Street to West Kansas Avenue.

More than 20,000 cars a day use Main Street, a main north-south thoroughfare in northeast Kansas. Through much of the construction period, traffic will be restricted to one northbound and one southbound lane.

"KDOT has been very cooperative in recognizing the local issues involved in this project, and it's reflected in this provision," Young said.

The restrictions and proposed damages in the provision are:

¢ The contractor can block East Mary and Ida streets to traffic only from May 27, 2006, to Aug. 13, 2006, and from May 26, 2007, to Aug. 12, 2007. Should access to those streets be blocked because of construction at any other time, and the contractor will be liable for liquidated damages of $1,000 for each day the streets are not open to traffic.

¢ The contractor must adhere to a winter shutdown period from Nov. 22, 2006, through March 5, 2007. During this period, all lanes, local accesses and local roads within the project limits must be open to the public. Work will be permitted if it does not interfere with traffic. Failure to adhere will result in the contractor being liable for liquidated damages of $2,000 for each day the restriction is not met.

¢ Except for finishing touches, such as permanent pavement markings and minor cleanup, the contractor must finish all work and operations on the project by Nov. 21, 2007. Failure to meet the deadline will result in the contractor being liable for liquidated damages of $6,000 for each day past the deadline the project remains incomplete.

¢ All permanent markings, permanent seeding and sodding and minor cleanup must be completed by May 16, 2008. Failure to meet the deadline will result in the contractor being liable for liquidated damages of $1,000 for each day the deadline is not met.

The first restriction deals with the reality of the traffic situation in Lansing. East Mary and Ida streets both lead to city schools, and hundreds of vehicles are drawn to those streets every day when school is in session.

"We made the point to KDOT and they agreed: We have a real difficult situation with regard to circulation to the schools," Young said.

As for the prohibition on closing any lanes on Main Street during the winter months, Young pointed out, "It's really hard to plow snow around orange barrels."

The state pays the contractor throughout the length of the contract, Young said, each time holding back a 10 percent "retainage" fee. Retained funds aren't paid out until the project is completed. The retainage fee, he said, should be "more than enough to cover any collectable damages" on the project.

The city and KDOT are partners on the estimated $13.3 million project, with the state paying 80 percent of the cost and the city, the remainder.

Prospective contractors will meet April 6 in Topeka with KDOT officials and Young for a mandatory prebid conference. The bid-letting date is April 19.

Young said the special provision and its potential cost to a contractor shouldn't dissuade contractors from submitting bids for the project.

"I think there'll be good interest in it," Young said. "It's a pretty attractive project."

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