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Summit County Council Chair Weighs In On Jeremy/Pinebrook Roundabout Project

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Summit County
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As we’ve reported, the Summit County Council had to cope with the news that the low bid for their Jeremy/Pinebrook Roundabout project came in 24 percent over their budget.

The council decided this week to go forward with the project this year. Council Chairman Roger Armstrong said the budget news wasn’t the end of the world, but it was irritating.

Armstrong told KPCW that several factors went into the overage reported to the Council on Wednesday. The bidding process started late, since the county was held up by some right-of-way acquisition problems.

The engineer’s estimate increased as they added items to the project.

“We’ve added some pedestrian undercrossing,” Armstrong explained. “We’ve tried to address some of the safety issues that people were concerned about in the area. That caused the price to go up, but this 24% increase was surprising I think to everybody including public works.”

A big question for him, he said, was how the county didn’t anticipate the cost coming in at 24 percent over their projection.

“There’s been no surprise that the airport is sucking both materials and labor from everything construction in the state of Utah,” Armstrong continued. “I suspect that we're going to have to deal with the same kinds of challenges when the port starts to be constructed. That's going to be a massive undertaking, so that's causing prices to go up. Now we should have anticipated that the airports not a new project, so that was probably built into the system. Based on the discussion yesterday I think the intent of public works was to go out with the bids sometime in February. They wanted to get shovels in the ground as soon as the weather allowed this the spring. We're still getting snow; it was a late spring coming.”

Another factor was that the county was asking bidders to take on a one-season job on a tight time frame.

“I think that lateness when it was presented to the bidders, you've got to get this done by November,” Armstrong said. “This is a one season build. The longer you take before you can get that finished the more risk the builder undertakes and more, they're going to charge to make sure that they can complete the job.”

Still, Armstrong said they won’t have to abandon the features they’ve put in the project, for park n ride space, wildlife and pedestrians.

He said they have three or four funding sources to draw on, such as transportation sales tax.

“We've got those funds available,” Armstrong explained. “So, the amount that Mount Levitt budgeted for us to receive in one of the sales taxes the actual amounts we collected was higher than what he budgeted. He was pretty conservative. So, we've got more in that fund. We've got the 4th quarter that we passed last year we haven't tapped that. We were planning on hanging on to that letting it generate some interest and looking for projects that we could build with it. So, there are probably three or four different revenue sources we can tap to cover this.”

He said they’re also hoping to get additional funding from UDOT.

“I pointed out that I thought that some of this delay which caused the price increase was probably due to UDOT’s challenges internally,” Armstrong continued. “John Montoya from UDOT agreed that they were going to try and find some funds to help us cover this overage.”

Armstrong said the county had to make some tough choices, but in hindsight, he doesn’t think they could have avoided the situation.

“At the end of the day, the price is what the price is,” Armstrong said. “The irritation for me is that we weren't having these discussions in December. The bottom line is we have a couple of choices. One is we cannot build this. We can let the interchange function the way it does now. We know that it's failing now that the traffic out there during the busier times is impossible and not particularly safe with left turns in the way people have to travel. Or, we could divide it into two building seasons and have that entire area torn up for two seasons. Which is I think of remarkable hardship on the people that live there. Or, we can bite the bullet and get it done.”

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