AVILLA – A special Town Council meeting was held Wednesday evening, April 11th at the Town Hall to review the bids for the Albion Street improvements. The specifications were made available to perspective INDOT qualified contract bidders on March 28th. The initial plan was to open the bids on April 4th; this gave contractors only one week to determine their bid price and submit it in writing. The bid submission deadline was moved out to April 11th, thereby giving contractors two weeks to submit their bids. Two bids were received and both contractors indicated that two weeks was not sufficient time to bid a project of this size. The deadline could not be moved further out because the project must be under contract by April 15th in order to receive the Community Crossings Grant funds.
The Triad Associates, Inc., engineer’s price estimate for the project is $932,444 and the bids came in approximately $500,000 higher. Two reasons were cited for the higher pricing: insufficient time to properly generate bids, and that there are a lot of infrastructure projects and INDOT qualified contractors already have a lot of work. The ideal time to make specifications available for bid is late in the fall so that contractors don’t already have their work schedule filled.
The Town of Avilla does not have the funds to make up the difference in pricing, so two options were discussed:
Option 1: Delay the project until next year, solicit bids late in the fall, and apply for another Community Crossings Grant or Main Street Grant,
Delaying the project would mean that the $400,000 Community Crossings Grant funds awarded last year would be lost since the project would not meet the April 15, 2018 contract deadline. The Town would apply for another Community Crossings Grant which, if awarded, would need to be under contract by around April 2019. The Council members felt that the pricing would likely be better later in the year, being that the contractors would have sufficient time to generate their bids at a time when they do not already have a full schedule for the next year.
The Triad Associates, Inc. will still be paid for the work they have done. This will not be money lost since the Town owns the design and the project is “shelf-ready” when they are ready to proceed.
Option 2: Parse the project down to get it within budget. Parsing the project down would mean that certain parts of the project like lights and/or crosswalks would be left out. Two of the parsed concepts were to do Main Street to Ley Street or do Main Street to Baum/VanScoyc streets, which would be the most expensive portion of the project. The discussion for this option did not go far, since parsing the project would require new and/or updated bids and there is insufficient time in order to meet the contract deadline.
The Town Council unanimously felt that it was not prudent to spend taxpayer money on a project in which the bids appeared to be inflated and would likely not be completed until sometime in 2019. The Town Council voted 3 to 0 to delay the project and reject all bids.
The scope of this project was a concept with an estimated price when last years Community Crossings Grant application was submitted. At that time they applied for a $400,000 grant. The maximum which can be applied for is $1,000,000. Now that the project scope is defined along with having an engineering price estimate and bids, an appropriate dollar amount grant can be specified on the new application. Delaying the project also gives the Town more time to allocate funds to cover their portion of the project.