Changes to keep Fourth Street redesign within budget

Huntingburg is looking to redesign downtown Fourth Street between Geiger and Jackson streets. Plans call for the street having a driving lane and sidewalk; a lane situated between the two would be used optionally as a walking lane, parking area or space for outdoor uses by a business, like seating. (Graphic rendering via City of Huntingburg)

 

By CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com

HUNTINGBURG — The city will solicit bids in September for the project to redesign downtown Fourth Street.

The Huntingburg Board of Public Works heard Thursday about changes that have been made to make the project affordable. Bids for the project that were opened in February were more than city’s budget for the work.

“We’ve put in quite a bit of thought, and reached out to a number of folks for feedback to figure out how we can bring the project back down to where we wanted to be from a cost perspective,” Nick Jahn of VS Engineering told the board. “And we are considering many different items that will be a part of the specs this time.”

The city is looking to redesign downtown Fourth Street between Geiger and Jackson streets. Plans call for the street having a driving lane and sidewalk; a lane situated between the two would be used optionally as a walking lane, parking area or space for outdoor uses by a business, like seating. Trees and planters would be placed in what is now the parking lane, leaving about three parking spaces in between the planters. Businesses would have the option of using part of the sidewalk or the parking lane in front of their business for enhancements like seating. The design incorporates part of the Heritage Trail, which is a walking and bicycle path that will ultimately connect the north and south ends of the city.

When the city received two bids for the project in February, the base bids were $3.9 million and $4.2 million, both more than the project’s $3.5 million estimate. Those bids were rejected and engineers went back to work to hopefully bring the project’s cost down to the estimate. The project is part of the Stellar Community designation, and funds from that program will cover the cost.

Jahn explained Thursday that the bid specifications will be more flexible to allow more options for materials, like different kinds of pavers and the possible use of asphalt for a part of the project. The bid specifications will also ask for unit costs instead of just one lump sum.

“If we want to reduce dollars or defer costs to later, we will have the data to make those decisions,” Jahn said.

The city’s street department will also do the needed stormwater work on the street, which removes that project from the bid, Mayor Denny Spinner said.

The project’s schedule is also longer than before, Jahn said. The February bid had the contractor starting work immediately and being done before this November’s Christmas Stroll. This time, construction is set to start Jan. 1, which will give the contractor more time to prepare and collect needed materials, and be completed by spring 2020.

It will be required in the contract for construction to not be in the way of the 2019 stroll, Spinner reassured the board.

“The work may not be completed, but there will no construction going on during that time period,” he said, “and the site will be prepared for pedestrians in time for the Christmas Stroll. Construction will not be interfering with any traffic flow during that time.”

Board member Roger Cox indicated that he liked adding options and having more schedule flexibility. “This will give bidders and the city more opportunities to pick and choose things,” he said.

Spinner said that those are the biggest differences in the current and previous bid specifications.

“We still have a budget that we know we need to hit,” he said. “This gives us more options to say what can we afford. It gives us more flexibility to meet the budget.”

Bid specifications will be released Sept. 1; bids will be opened in early October.




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