Published June 17, 2014
East Nine Mile project in jeopardy this year after bids come in high
By Joshua Gordon firstname.lastname@example.org
FERNDALE — With bids coming in almost $1 million higher than projected, Department of Public Works Director Loyd Cureton told City Council June 9 that the East Nine Mile Road construction project most likely will not happen this year.
The news of the high bids came in late June 6 and only about a month before the project was slated to begin. The project was being done in collaboration with the Michigan Department of Transportation.
Ferndale was to receive funds for the project from the Oakland County Federal Aid Commission. The original estimate for the project was $1.6 million, but Cureton told council that when the bids came in June 6, they were almost $2.5 million.
The biggest reason for the difference between projected costs and reality, Cureton said, was the fact the project was going to be split into two stages with a break during the Woodward Dream Cruise in August. The portion of East Nine Mile west of Hilton Road was scheduled to be completed by early August with the rest of the road from Hilton to Woodward Avenue to be completed after the Dream Cruise.
“Obviously, with these bids, we are a bit surprised,” Cureton said. “It appears staging the project in two stages to mostly protect the Dream Cruise added some substantial costs. On one hand, we have a few hundred thousand dollars attributed to the staging, but with three bidders, across the board the estimate was higher in a number of categories and ends up at almost $1 million more.”
The project would consist of milling the existing asphalt surface and overlaying it with 3-4 inches of new asphalt, as well as repairing and upgrading curbs and sidewalks with new disability ramps. A bike lane would be incorporated, along with new pedestrian crossings and some landscaping in line with the city’s Ferndale Moves project.
Last month, Cureton said the road needed work not just for the safety of vehicles, but also for pedestrians who bike or walk the road.
At this point, Cureton said once he has a chance to go over the bids more, council could either reject or accept one of the bids, or pull the water main portion of the project from it, which may shave a few weeks off the project. Still, Cureton said it is not preferred to tear up the road twice in one year to do the water main and resurfacing as separate projects, so if the city pulled out the water main portion, the resurfacing would be best left to next year.
“I think it would be advantageous to complete a bid out for the water main work and shave off some time, as much as six weeks or more,” he said. “If we bid out the water main work and complete it, it gives us a whole new set of circumstances for the rest of the project.”
Ultimately, however, Cureton said if one of the bids is not accepted in its entirety, there is no way the work could be done this year due to the time needed to go out for bids again. However, not completing the project this year does not put the street or those who travel it in harm’s way, he said.
“The frustrating part is this is well beyond 10 percent (more than the estimate),” Councilman Dan Martin said. “I want to hear more about this and more about why we were so off the estimate.”
Cureton said he would speak with the engineer who prepared the bidding documents in advance of the council’s June 23 meeting. If the city did put off the project, Cureton said he spoke with representatives with the Federal Surface Transportation Program who assured him that the funds would still be available for the project.
Despite the strong possibility of the project not happening, the DIY Street Fair still will not happen. The fair was canceled last month because there would not be enough space, as the fair usually uses portions of East Nine Mile for vendors and parking.
Councilwoman Melanie Piana said she spoke with event organizer Chris Johnson, who said the event would not be brought back because there was not enough time to plan it before the usual event date in September.
“It is very disappointing,” Piana said of the project likely not happening this year. “I have spoken with Chris Johnson, and he verified it is not possible to ramp up planning to deliver the type of festival we have all come to expect by now.”