In their last meeting of the year, Lawrence city commissioners received a nice parting gift, courtesy of the federal stimulus and local contractors.
Commissioners on Tuesday morning approved two lower-than-expected bids for an East Lawrence brick street project and a West Lawrence hike and bike trail reconstruction. The lower bids mean City Hall leaders will be able to expand the projects because the bids were significantly less than the federal stimulus grants the city already has been awarded.
“We’ve been getting really good bids,” said Chuck Soules, director of the city’s Public Works Department.
Bids to return New York Street — from Ninth to 12th streets — to brick came in a full $400,000 less than what city engineers expected. City engineers had estimated the project would cost about $976,000 to complete, and the city already has been awarded $946,000 in federal stimulus dollars for the project. Instead, Lawrence-based R.D. Johnson Excavating submitted a low bid of $576,842 to build the project.
Commissioners at their weekly meeting expressed no interest in returning the unused stimulus dollars. Instead, project engineer David Cronin told commissioners in a memo that the department is now researching whether the excess money can be used to reconstruct brick sidewalks and stone curbs along the three-block stretch of street. The city is not required to provide any local matching dollars for the project.
Cronin, though, cautioned that some of the excess federal dollars may be needed to buy new bricks for the street, if city estimates are incorrect about how many of the existing bricks can be re-used.
Soules said the project is expected to begin in March, and is estimated to take about 120 working days to complete. He said the project is being designed so that all the work on the one-block section in front of New York Elementary will be done while school is out.
In a second project, bids to rebuild large portions of the hike-and-bike trail along Clinton Parkway came in nearly $135,000 less than the amount the city anticipated.
The city originally had planned to replace the existing asphalt path along the south side of Clinton Parkway from Inverness Drive to Kansas Highway 10, and on the north side of Clinton Parkway from K-10 to Lake Pointe Drive.
The city has been awarded $800,750 in federal stimulus funding for the project. In anticipation that the bids may be lower than the stimulus award, city engineers came up with two additions to the project. They are replacing the existing path:
• On the north side of Clinton Parkway from Hartford to Inverness.
• On the north side of Clinton Parkway from Kasold Drive to Lawrence Avenue.
Commissioners on Tuesday unanimously approved both of those additions, but the costs for those additions will put the pricetag for the total project about $68,000 more than the amount of federal stimulus dollars the city has received. Commissioners agreed that the additional money would be paid out of a city reserve fund.
R.D. Johnson was the low-bidder on that project as well.
The project not only will replace the existing paths, but also will make them larger. All of the existing paths currently are 8-foot-wide asphalt paths. The new paths will be 10-foot-wide concrete paths.
Soules estimated work on the paths would begin in March, and that the project could be completed in about 90 working days.