No solution yet for sidewalk
By Bert Lehman
After the Clintonville Street Committee discussed the Ninth Street sidewalk situation at its April 4 meeting, the city wasn’t any closer to an acceptable solution.
Street Committee Chairwoman Julie Stumbris led off the discussion asking what it means to the Ninth Street sidewalk situation now that the Clintonville City Council rejected the bids for the project at its last meeting. She said it was her understanding that the bids are then “null and void.”
“Legally that means we have to start over, we have no choice,” said Clintonville City Administrator Chuck Kell.
Clintonville Public Works Director Kray Brown said the council rejecting the bids was more good than bad. He said the city is looking at alternatives to reduce the cost for the project.
Brown said part of the reason the bids came back higher than expected is the original estimate didn’t include everything that was needed for the project.
“One of the biggest things that I found was backfill,” Brown said. “None of the (original) quotes had in there the backfilling of the wall.”
Kell added that one of the original bids also didn’t include the cost of the sidewalk.
Brown said the city is essentially “starting from scratch” and seeing what the alternatives are for the project. He informed the committee that the city was informed within the last several days that the project might be able to be done in a way that would reduced the total cost of the project by a substantial amount. He didn’t elaborate, as he told the committee he was unsure if it was a viable solution.
Stumbris asked what timeline the city was looking at for the project. At the March Street Committee meeting, Brown had told the committee that he hoped to complete the project by June 1. That was before the bids were opened.
At the April 4 meeting, Kell said he didn’t know what the new timeline would be. He added that he isn’t happy with how MSA Professional Services (MSA) has handled the project. He told the committee he requested a report about the available options from MSA, the engineering company overseeing the project, so he could provide that information at the meeting, but he never received the report. He added that he hasn’t received any information about findings from MSA.
“That’s one concern,” Kell said. “We’re assuming they’re making those contacts, but without that report, we really don’t know what they’ve done.”
In the meantime, Kell said Clintonville City Attorney Keith Steckbauer suggested contacting a different engineering firm. Kell said he did, and that company has involved a structural engineer from a large company to take a look at the Ninth Street sidewalk situation.
Kell said that company is equating the situation to a parking ramp that is deteriorating and needs to be refurbished.
“I think they may come back with some ideas that will work that will save substantial money,” Kell said.
A solution that wouldn’t require relocating utilities is one of the reasons a new solution might save a substantial amount of money.
Kell said the city hasn’t hired the new company it contacted.
“I don’t know how far we’re going to be able to take this without contracting with someone,” Kell said. “We spent a goodly amount of money already on MSA.”
Brown said the city has spent between $5,000 and $6,000 with MSA.
Kell acknowledged that the new company the city is dealing with will probably eventually require the city hire it for the project.
Committee member Lance Bagstad asked Kell if MSA has fulfilled the contractual requests that the city originally asked of it.
Kell said MSA has fulfilled those requests.
Committee member Jim Supanich asked if MSA looked at repair options in addition to replacement options.
Kell said no.
“We asked them to look at everything that could possibly be done but they came back with the design they came back with,” Kell said. “They must have not been comfortable with the other options.”
All the recommendations have revolved around creating a wall in the basements of the businesses on Ninth Street and then filling in the void directly under the sidewalk. Brown said he was comfortable leaving the sidewalk vaulted as long as it was structurally sound.
Bagstad questioned what changed to make the cost go from $65,000 in the original estimate to $118,000 when the project was officially put out on bids.
Kell said the addition of footings is one of the differences.
Brown added that bids for contracted projects throughout the city are coming in higher than expected.
Supanich said the city needs contractors to itemize their bids.
Brown said the city still hasn’t received an itemized breakdown of the $118,000 bid.
Kell said the city will have to once again advertise for bids for three weeks with whatever specs the city settles on. He added that since the total cost of the project is more than $25,000, the project has to be put out on public bids.
Bagstad said if footings are not required by code, and a solution can be found without footings, the city should require the project be bid out without requiring footings.
He suggested the city rebid the project with specs provided by the city, or move in a different direction other than MSA.
“We can’t even do anything with the project until we rebid this thing anyway,” Bagstad said.
Supanich said itemized bids have to be required when the project is rebid.
It was ultimately decided to have the city continue to work with MSA to obtain requested information. If need be, a special Street Committee meeting can be scheduled.