City crews to take on Main St. rebuilding project

Low bidder almost double project cost of in-house work

By BRUCE ALSOBROOK, News-Telegram Managing Editor

May 8, 2008 - The city of Sulphur Springs will take on the task of rebuilding Main Street with its own crews after bids to remodel the thoroughfare were prohibitively high.

City Council members voted during their regular monthly meeting Tuesday to allow the city manager and staff to do the work that will widen sidewalks and add streetlights and trees to the road.

Bids from three private contractors to implement the design developed last year by design consultants specializing in community planning ranged from a low of $757,000 to as high as $1.3 million.

"The bids were terribly disappointing," City Manager Marc Maxwell said early in the meeting while delivering his monthly report to the council. "We're going to recommend to you that we do this in-house."

Johnny Vance, director of community development for the city, told council members the initial estimated cost for city crews to do the work was $555,532. part of that figure -- about $80,000 -- was termed "soft costs." Vance said the term applies to resources that are already included in the budget, such as manpower and equipment, that would be used for another capital construction job if they weren't applied to the Main Street rebuild.

With some changes -- such as using lower-cost street lights and deleting an optional part of the design -- the potential cost for all other elements of the "Streetscape" for Main Street falls to $433,000.

City Financial Director Peter Karstens added that the original plan in 2007, which was essentially to rebuild the road and realign parking, was budgeted at $407,000.

"Considering that we're getting quite a lot more, if we can do it for $430,000, that's a bargain," he said.

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