County Council Approves Bid For Jeremy Roundabout Despite Being Over Budget By Nearly 25%
The Summit County Council got some bad news Wednesday, from an item that was added to their agenda just the day before.
The low bid for their Jeremy Roundabout project came in over the amount they budgeted by nearly 25 percent. That left the council to decide whether to proceed with the project—and if so, how.
After a lengthy discussion, council members decided they would still aim to get the Interchange done this year. They approved an additional $2 million for the construction and will meet with staff later to determine the best way to find more funds.
County Public Works Director Derrick Radke reported that the bids were opened by UDOT last Thursday, May 2nd.
The engineer’s estimate for the project was $7.3 million, but out of three bids, the lowest was $9.7 million. That means the county is short by $2.4 million or 24 percent.
Radke estimated that if they use the Contingency Funding built into the project, plus money from the Transportation Sales Tax enacted in 2016, they could bring the shortfall down to $1.4 million.
He said that realistically, the county needs to add $1.5 to $2 million to proceed, assuming they don’t run into any major change orders.
Council Chairman Roger Armstrong said they set the budget for the Jeremy project in December, and he has no earthly idea how the cost increased by 24 percent.
But Radke said the extra cost wasn’t terribly surprising. He said UDOT has reported their projects are routinely coming up 20 percent or so over estimates. Radke said that projects in Summit are more costly, since they’re out of the Wasatch Front. He cited several other factors as well.
“We advertised it a little later than we wanted to, due to right-of-way acquisition and a few other little things that happened,” Radke continued. “Deciding that we wanted to do this and single construction season added cost and risk to the contractor. So when they have added risk, they add costs. Utility conflict risks assessment that probably went into some of it, back to the stringent more stringent traffic control things they probably saw it even stricter than we were envisioning. Then the shortage of subcontractors, especially concrete subcontractors these days is a huge risk for them. Then in general Utah's economy and the vast amount of work that's out there probably went into that as well.”
Council members discussed whether to delay the project for a year to find ways to reduce the cost.
However, Radke said in the current economic climate, a delay will result in construction costs inflating by four or five percent.
The traffic pressures at the Jeremy Interchange aren’t getting better, with the new development in the vicinity.
“There is a nightmare traffic problem there every day, morning and evening,” Radke continued. “So, pushing it out it just continues that problem and makes it worse. Especially these other projects that are already underway such as Woodward like Tom mentioned. I see a new building going up and Quarry Village, I don't even know it until I went over there the other day. So, it just further exacerbates the already existing am/pm commuter traffic issues that we have. Can we survive another year or two? sure we could survive.”
The county’s Chief Financial Officer Matt Leavitt said some other funding options could include transferring money from Service Area #1, which is mineral lease money; using transportation impact fees and fourth-quarter sales tax revenues.
UDOT’s project manager, John Montoya, also recommended against delay, saying that the cost for bids are only going to get worse.
“In 20 years, I've never seen the benefit of waiting,” Montoya explained. “I think if you can work out a monetary issue then this is the time to do it. As painful as it might be, it's not going to get better.”
Council member Kim Carson said the situation is difficult, but she isn’t for delay either.
“I've been involved in bidding projects when there were some really unexpected changes and it was painful,” Carson said. “I would like to go ahead with the project this year. I don't think we're going to gain anything by waiting. What I would propose is that we approve that they go forward but ask that at our next meeting you come up, Tom Derek and you Matt come up with where you think the best source is. Where they should come from. It sounds like we have some options that won’t leave any single area depleted or at risk for future projects. So I think it needs to be a mix.”
The council voted unanimously to add the money. Council member Doug Clyde was absent.
Radke said hopefully in a day or two UDOT will give Notice that they awarded the Bid. At that point, when the local government has approved it, they can get details about the contractor and the bid.