Jul 05, 2012 Jason Emerson Uncategorized
After more than a decade of starts and stops and various issues inhibiting the fulfillment of the Western Gateway Enhancement Project at the west end of town on Route 20, the nearly half-million-dollar construction bid has been awarded to an Auburn company and the project is finally moving forward.
The Skaneateles Town Board officially awarded the job to Rizzo Construction Company of Auburn at the board’s July 5 meeting. Board approval came after the bid award was tabled at a June 29 meeting due to cost issues related to the amount of federal funding versus the town contribution for the project.
At issue was the fact that the federal grant awarded to the town in 1999 for 80 percent of the project cost was based on 1999 construction costs, which are much lower than 2012 construction costs. This would mean a greater contribution from the town to meet the total project costs.
“We took a step back and started reconciling dollars to donuts if you will,” said town Supervisor Terri Roney. “Construction costs have gone up. For example, it’s 50 percent more expensive to do a road now.”
The Western Gateway (or Gateway West) Enhancement Project is intended to enhance vehicle and pedestrian safety, as well as landscape aesthetics, on the Route 20 corridor between the intersection of West Genesee and Fuller streets up to the Kwik Fill gas station. The project includes reducing the width of the highway to add curbs and curb cuts, sidewalks and crosswalks. The curbing, especially, is anticipated to improve the entrances and exits — to slow and make safer the ingress and egress traffic — of hilltop businesses and also to reduce truck loading and unloading in the area. Anticipated changes also include increased lighting, the elimination of open and unmaintained ditches along the roadsides and numerous landscape beautifications through the planting of grass and trees.
Between June 29 and July 5, the town board consulted with its attorney, Patrick Sardino, and its architect/engineer on the project, Kelly Thompson of Bergmann Associates, to find an acceptable solution to keep the project moving forward but keep the costs in line with the existing federal grant money. Also a concern was what individual items in the project could be eliminated without losing eligibility for the grants.
The shortfall amounts to about $137,000, Roney said. The town’s original 1999 required matching funding was $85,600. It already has spent $75,000 in engineers’ fees.
The funding solution, agreed to by the board on July 5, was to remove all landscaping amenities from the project, including the proposed stone monument signage, trees and benches.
Town Councilor Rick Keyes made the motion to approve the construction bid “based on final negotiations” with the contractor that will leave the “core of the project” intact but possibly limit the “superficial” aspects of the plans. The board then unanimously approved the bid.
Rizzo Construction submitted the only project bid, of $497,690 — only $500 more than the engineer’s estimated cost.
Because of the newly-approved alterations to the project, however, the town board must inform and discuss with Rizzo Construction the changes and verify the company is still willing to do the job. If so, the project will move on to pre-construction meetings involving the builders, engineers and town board, at which time an actual construction timetable also will be decided.
The project is expected to be completed in about 10 weeks, and must be done before the cold winter weather sets in, Roney said.
If, on the other hand, Rizzo Construction decides to withdraw its bid due to the July 5 changes in the project, the town board would once again have to put the project out for a new bid.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Skaneateles Press. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.