Price tag too high

Tia Lynn Ivey News

The City of Madison may be forced to scale back or redesign plans to complete the West Washington Gateway Stormwater project. Three bids came in for the project, but even the lowest bid was almost twice as much as the City was prepared to pay. The Astra Group submitted the lowest bid of nearly $2.4 million.

“It was way over budget,” said Madison City Planner Director Monica Callahan, who noted the city had budgeted about $1.6 million for the project, which is primarily funded through the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA).

Madison’s Downtown Development Authority (DDA) reviewed the bid proposals at the regular meeting last week, discouraged to find bids far too high to accept.

“The DDA voted to confirm the Official Bid Tab and announce the lowest qualified bidder,” said Callahan. “However, with the project nearly double the anticipated budget, DDA did not award the project. Given that the scope will likely need to be heavily altered or phased to stay in budget, the project will likely be re-bid, as is DDA’s right after a comprehensive reevaluation of scope and cost engineering measures, as to assure the project remains competitive.”

According to Callahan, a subcommittee of the DDA, along with the City Engineer and City Manager David Nunn, will review the design plans for the project and try to make changes that will reduce the cost.

“They are starting to examine what we need to keep and what needs to go,” said Callahan. “They will look at alternatives that may get us more bang for buck.”

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.

Despite turning down the lowest bid, according to Callahan, this bump in the road will not mess too much with the City’s timeline for this project.

“Work wouldn’t begin until after the wet season anyway, so we have some time to reconsider aspects of the project.”

Callahan estimated that once the project is contracted out, the stormwater installation would take up to nine months.

“It’s an important project that will get done eventually. No one in downtown has stormwater service right now,” said Callahan. “When the project is completed, the stormwater system will handle a quarter of downtown’s stormwater and will handle all the water in the new gateway area.

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