Funding shortfall looms in Helper rebuilding project
The largest single public works project in Helper's history may wind up costing more than the $19.5 million in grants and loans available.
How much more expensive is uncertain. There is still a lot of planning and bidding on next year's final phase, according to Eric Franson of Franson Civil Engineers.
In very rough numbers, he told the city council Thursday, there should be about $2 million left for Main Street and the east side of town. The cost could be $6 million or more.
Bids higher than anticipated
"There are no exact numbers, but past bids have been higher than expected," he explained.
Engineers have been working closely with the city and contractors on cost-cutting measures since March 2013, when the first bids came in on Area One. Condie Construction won the contract with a low bid of $4.8 million. That low bid, however, was about $1.3 million more than expected.
The story was the same on with Area Four, which is completed, and Area Five where work is now under way.
Area Five, basically west and north Helper, is moving along on schedule, Franson said. Contractor Silver Spur Construction is on schedule on on track to finish the area around Salley Mauro Elementary before school starts in August.
The engineers want to finish the planning for the final phase this fall and put the project out for bid in November or December. That would give the city time to award the contract and allow work to start with the spring thaw.
The city decided to reconstruct its aging water, sewer and storm drainage systems in one integrated project rather than in a piecemeal fashion. The long-term cost is anticipated to be lower because work can be designed and coordinated more smoothly.
A complete overhaul is also expected to reduce repair work on the system, which was costing the city an average of more than $2,000 a week.