Pedestrian safety project on hold after bids are high

GLOVERSVILLE — The grant-funded pedestrian safety project the city planned to implement this year has been put on hold after bids from contractors came back roughly $300,000 over engineering estimates.

Department of Public Works Director Christopher Perry reported to the Common Council on Tuesday that the city was forced to reject bids that came in over budget for the pedestrian safety project that officials hoped would break ground in August.

“I was very excited for construction to get underway next month, but we had to reject the bids, they were extremely high, $300,000 over the engineering estimate,” said Perry.

The city in 2018 received a $660,000 state grant award to cover the cost of the improvement project as part of the Pedestrian Safety Action Plan initiative through the Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Traffic Safety Committee, the state Department of Transportation and the state Department of Health. The grant award is expected to cover all costs related to the project that will see improvements and upgrades related to pedestrian safety installed downtown along Main Street.

The city awarded design and engineering services for the project to Greenman-Pedersen Inc. in fall 2018 and the Common Council reviewed plans for the project in summer 2019 for proposed construction this summer.

The project will see new pedestrian signals and push button controls, pedestrian signage, crosswalks, curb extensions or bulb outs that extend the sidewalk into intersections to improve pedestrian visibility and shorten crossing distances, drainage and curb cut ramps installed.

The city while reviewing the initial concept for the project developed by GPI last year scaled back certain aspects of the plan to bring estimated construction costs down to approximately $505,000.

The city issued a request for proposals for the project in June. Responses that were opened this month were returned by Callanan Industries at an estimated cost of $787,787.78 and New Castle Paving for approximately $1.23 million.

After reviewing the bids, Perry reached out to state DOT and GPI and learned that municipal projects across the state are receiving seemingly inflated bids.

“The feedback from DOT was we’re not alone in this situation, bids have been extremely high across the state. I think a lot of contractors are trying to recoup costs from lost revenue from COVID,” said Perry.

Perry recommended that the city send the project out to bid again in November for planned construction in spring 2021, expressing optimism that the city later in the year will succeed in securing bids within the project budget without having to reduce the scope of the planned work.

“I think by November they’ll realize they need to be a little more realistic when they submit their bids and prepare their bids for municipal construction projects,” said Perry.

By Paul Wager