Lawrence City Commission to consider more expensive bike boulevard, now expected to cost $400,000
photo by: Nick Krug
Plans to construct the city’s first bike boulevard have again turned out more expensive than expected, and city leaders will soon consider whether to go ahead with the project without rebidding it.
As part of its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission will consider waiving the requirement to rebid the bike boulevard project planned for 21st Street because bids came in about $69,000 more than expected. City staff is recommending that the commission waive the rebidding requirement and award the contract to Phoenix Concrete LLC in the amount of $397,217.
The city previously bid the 21st Street Bicycle Boulevard project, but it received only one bid. In February, the commission rejected the bid, which was more than double the engineer’s estimate, according to information provided to the commission at the time. The design firm, Alta Planning + Design Inc., modified the design to reduce costs, and the city rebid the project in March and received three bids, according to a city staff memo to the commission.
The engineer’s estimate for the project was $328,426.50, and the three bids ranged from $397,217 to $511,822. The low bidder, Phoenix Concrete, is $68,790.48 more than the engineer’s estimate, but the memo states that a city charter ordinance allows the City Commission to waive the rebidding process when the low bid exceeds the engineer’s estimate. The main reasons for the higher cost: The boulevard’s concrete bump-outs require more labor than typical curb and gutter work and the need to break the project into multiple phases to limit impact on the neighborhood.
City staff is recommending swapping funding sources for other projects to free up the additional money. Currently about $331,000 is available for the 21st Street bike boulevard project, meaning that the commission would need to allocate an additional $66,000 to construct the project. City staff is recommending using funding previously allocated for general bike and pedestrian improvements. Staff recommends that this be accomplished by using currently unallocated Community Development Block Grant funds to help fund a sidewalk project on Ninth Street, freeing up the funds needed for the bike boulevard project.
Staff recommends waiving the rebidding requirement partly because of the project’s location, which is near the University of Kansas campus and Lawrence High School. The memo says the construction needs to occur prior to either KU or LHS starting school in August.
The project scope being considered by the commission Tuesday is the result of previous adjustments made last year. Originally, the commission approved design funding for two bicycle boulevards, one on 21st Street and one on 13th Street. Because of a $250,000 overage in the overall project’s budget, the commission voted in July to defer the construction of the 13th Street project and move forward with the 21st Street bicycle boulevard and consider less expensive options for its construction.
The 21st Street Bicycle boulevard will run from Ousdahl Road to Massachusetts Street and also include bike and pedestrian related improvements along Ousdahl from 19th Street to 21st Street. The improvements on Ousdahl link the boulevard to the recently completed bike and pedestrian tunnel under the intersection of 19th and Iowa streets.
Bicycle boulevards are designed to reduce speed and volume of traffic to make the streets safer for cyclists and pedestrians. The boulevards include various features, such as 20 mph speed limits, speed bumps, restricted turns for motorists, marked bicycle crossing spaces, crossings with flashing beacons, and signs and pavement markings to reinforce bicycle positioning in the lane. All components of the designs are available on the city’s website at lawrenceks.org/bike-blvds.
The Lawrence City Commission will meet at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St., but the city is asking residents to participate virtually, if they are able to do so, using temporary meeting procedures put in place because of the coronavirus. The meeting will be broadcast live on the city’s YouTube channel and on public access cable channel 25.