Archive for Thursday, May 4, 2006

Main Street gets green light

City OKs additional $365,000 for project

May 4, 2006

The city will go ahead with the Main Street Enhancement Project even though it will cost it $365,000 more than originally projected.

Lansing City Council members agreed Thursday, April 28, to the increase so that the project could continue on schedule.

The project includes two years' worth of improvements to Kansas Highway 7 from Gilman Road to Connie Street. The Kansas Department of Transportation will pay 80 percent of the cost, and Lansing is responsible for 20 percent.

Bids on the project opened April 19 turned out to be higher than anticipated. The low bid, from Leavenworth Excavating and Equipment Co. for $10.1 million, was about $2 million higher than expected.

In a memo to council members, John Young, Lansing director of public works, explained price increase.

"A key opinion regarding the higher-than-expected bid is that it is due to the fact that liquid asphalt suppliers will not give contractors 2007 pricing for their product due to the uncertainty of the oil market," Young wrote, noting that most of the paving would be done in 2007. "Splitting the project and bidding paving in 2007, or rebidding the project based on 2006 prices with price indexing, does not guarantee a better price and could result in higher prices instead of lower."

Young also wrote that rebidding the project would delay the project by at least two months.

"With utility work under way now, this will result in a longer period of disruption for businesses and traffic," he said in the memo. "The delay will force contractors to consider likely increases in labor, fuel and material prices and could result in higher costs than the present bid."

Mayor Kenneth Bernard offered the council two options of how to pay for the project: by taking out a standard bond or borrowing money from the Kansas Department of Transportation Revolving Fund.

Borrowing from the revolving fund would cost $22,340 every six months on a 20-year loan at the current rate of 3.9 percent interest, said city clerk Karen Logan. That would include improvements to Gamble Street, Bernard said.

Reconstruction and curbing of Gamble Street, from Ida Street to the Carriage Hills Plaza shopping center, was on the city's priority list and was expected to cost $222,000.

The council unanimously agreed to accept the current low bid on the Main Street project and approved using money from the revolving fund, taking out a total of $622,000 for Main and Gamble street projects, but not before council members voiced their opinions.

Council members Billy Blackwell and Harland Russell both called for the council to re-evaluate its priority projects, saying that the city could not afford all of them with such price increases.

On Wednesday, Russ Stark, vice president of Lexeco, said the company was still awaiting the contract from KDOT but had received verbal confirmation that it would be awarded the project. After Lexeco officials meet with utility companies today, Stark said, it will be able to confirm a start date on the Main Street project.

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