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A ‘Perfect Storm’ of Construction Woes Could Delay Key Park City Projects Until 2022, Says Staff

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Due to factors that include an increased demand for construction across the state and shortages in both labor and materials, several key transportation projects slated for 2021 could be delayed until next year.

 

City Engineer John Robertson characterized Park City’s current predicament as part of the residual effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. He said the combination of a high demand for contractors, a shortage of qualified construction workers, and unstable and inflated materials costs have created a tough environment for municipalities looking to get projects underway.

 

“We’re kind of hitting a perfect storm in the construction industry,” said Robertson. “What I mean by that is, right now we have contractors that are extremely busy up and down the state, they have a lot of work going on, which is great, it is very good to see, but it’s creating some challenges and having some effects that are making it more difficult from our standpoint.”

 

Three city projects were highlighted at last week’s city council meeting as running into difficulties: the Rossi Hill roadway reconstruction, Park Avenue bus shelter and sidewalk improvements, and the Quinn’s Junction park and ride.

 

Robertson said the city did start accepting bids for the Rossi Hill project in May, but after several contractors showed interest, no formal bids were submitted. He said they all cited scheduling and unpredictable materials supplies and costs as deciding factors to not submit proposals to the city.

 

Robertson asked the council to delay the bidding for these projects until this fall, with the hope that schedules would open up and the supply and costs of materials would stabilize.

 

“To address this issue, we are proposing to delay the bidding of these few projects until November of this year, 2021, to take advantage of the more typical time when you would want to put these types of projects out to bid, when contractors are looking to fill their schedule for the next coming season,” he said. “We’re also hoping for a settling down or normalization of the materials costs … we do see that occurring over these next few months where some of those will start to settle down.”

 

Councilor Steve Joyce pressed Robertson to get at least some part of the projects done this year if possible and said he does not think demand will decrease much as the year progresses. 

 

“My gut instinct is these problems are going to exist next year,” Joyce said. “They may be slightly different, the prices may change, but the housing shortage doesn't go away, construction is not gonna slow down in Utah, there’s not gonna suddenly be 50,000 new construction workers. If you can get something done this year, get it done this year.”

 

Robertson did say portions of the projects are slated to go forward, like stairs on Rossi Hill and the bus shelters on Park Avenue, but the rest will likely have to wait until next year.

 

Council will take Robertson’s presentation under consideration. No binding action was taken by the council last week.

Sean Higgins covers all things Park City and is the Saturday Weekend Edition host at KPCW. Sean spent the first five years of his journalism career covering World Cup skiing for Ski Racing Media here in Utah and served as Senior Editor until January 2020. As Senior Editor, he managed the day-to-day news section of skiracing.com, as well as produced and hosted Ski Racing’s weekly podcast. During his tenure with Ski Racing Media, he was also a field reporter for NBC Sports, covering events in Europe.