By Tia Lynn Ivey
The City of Madison’s West Washington Gateway Stormwater project will be officially delayed as the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) reexamines the project in the face of soaring costs.
In a special-called meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 7, the DDA voted to formally reject all the bids that came in for the project.
According to Monica Callahan, planning director for the City of Madison, the DDA hopes to make revisions and rebid the project before the end of the year.
“The DDA’s goal is to regroup, redesign and rebid before the year’s end,” said Callahan. “We hope all of the previous bidders will reapply. We weren’t discouraged by the quality of the bidders. There was no question about their expertise, but the DDA has to regroup on this. They are really good about making sure projects make financial sense and that’s what they aim to do here.”
According to Callahan, the city’s engineer expected the base bids to come in between $1.2 million-$1.4 million, but the bids ended up ranging from $2.2 million to $3.2 million.
“When the base bid came in at $2.2 million, we realized there were some things in the project that need more specificity,” said Callahan.
“The project will go back to committee and some changes will be made.”
Among the three bids that came in for the project, even the lowest was almost twice as much as the City allotted from the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority’s (GEFA) funding portion.
The Astra Group submitted the lowest bid of nearly $2.4 million.
“It was way over budget,” said Callahan, who noted the city had budgeted about $1.6 million for the project, which is primarily funded through GEFA.
In an interview last week before the special called meeting, Callahan explored how the City might alter the project.
According to Callahan, The City may consider “phasing options” to proceed with the project in segments instead of doing it all at once, or even having city crews do some of the work themselves to cut costs.
“If that doesn’t work, we might have to look at other funding sources. But that would be the last resort. We don’t really want to go that route,” said Callahan.
Callahan maintained that the delay caused by the rebidding process shouldn’t significantly affect the City’s timeline for the project to be completed that much.
“Work wouldn’t begin until after the wet season anyway, so we have some time to reconsider aspects of the project.”