14th Avenue project may be delayed
Monday, August 12, 2013 7:00 PM
MENOMINEE - The city of Menominee's next big street project could be put on hold until next year. Originally 14th Avenue was going to be reconstructed from 13th Street to West Drive, however, available funding of $710,000 would only allow completion to 21st Street.
With the city's recently approved $4.5 million bond for street improvements, the project could have been finished all the way through, but 14th Avenue was not on the list of proposed streets to be fixed.
Members of the Public Safety/Public Works Committee met Monday to hash out what steps should be taken next. The project has already been bid out and the bids open. The two lowest of the three bidders were James Petersen and Barley Construction.
The bids for the area from 13th to 21st street was $1.585 million for Petersen and $1.507 million for Barley. The entire project came in at $2.412 million for Petersen and $2.420 million for Barley.
"The Water/Wastewater Utility Board had recommended that they could fund up to $565,000 for the water improvements and up to $490,000 for the sewer improvements," said City Manager Michael Cramer.
The state of Michigan is another possible source of funding. It's currently setting up its budget for the next fiscal year. In it, Senate Bill 194 includes a new Roads and Risks reserve fund totaling $230 million.
The bill has not received approval at this point, so any hopes for funding are speculative. Nonetheless, Menominee has already placed the 14th Avenue project on the list. If the bill is approved, the city could find out if it made the cut in early October or February.
"For us to qualify for those funds, we cannot obligate or award a contract for the project or for part of the project," said Cramer. So far the bids have only been received, not awarded.
Now the city is faced with a couple of scenarios. The first is to do the work on 14th Avenue from 13th to 21st street and get it all done within two months. Next year the project could be completed from 21st Street to West Drive, using more than a million dollars carved out of the $4.5 million bond referendum for sidewalk repairs around the schools.
"Given that 14th Avenue is a main corridor through town, it is our suggestion as a back up and punt that if we do not get the state funding for the project, that we utilize those sidewalk funds to complete the roadway portion of 14th," said Cramer.
Committee member Mark Jasper came up with yet another alternative.
"I know it might not be popular, but why not hold off the whole project until next year and then go after the whole thing?" He asked. "If we don't get it, we could move forward from there."
Cramer said that was certainly an option.
Bill Casagrande, a representative for Peterson Construction, said his company would be willing to hold the bid amount where it is until spring.
"We are willing to hold our bid through Feb. 1 into next spring's construction to complete the project as a whole," he said.
Mayor Jean Stegeman said the condition of 14th Avenue was not a "crisis situation" and that it could wait one more winter, while committee member Leon Felch voiced concerns about trying to complete the first half of the project in just two months.
"I don't think there's any shame in being honest and admitting this is a lot more complicated than we originally thought it was going to be," said Stegeman. "It's a fact. It's a complicated project and I don't think we have things as lined up as we might like because there is some time pressure."
Cramer reminded the committee that when voters approved the bonding, it was for $4.5 million over 10 years, not on the actual streets that would be fix.
Some council members didn't quite see it that way, noting that a list of streets and projects was put out in front of the voters to get them to approve the funding.
"It's not a question of law, it's a question of credibility," said committee member Frank Pohlmann. "We went out there, we asked for something, we made a very specific recommendation, good or bad, but we did."
Stegeman called not placing 14th Avenue on the list "an incredible oversight" but something the council would have to live with.
"I would rather have us take the lumps up front for delaying it than to be absolutely pummeled on the back end when something goes wrong," she said.
How will residents along the road feel knowing the reconstruction could be delayed until spring? Steve Fifarek, an outspoken proponent for the project was at the meeting Monday and said he saw merit in holding off.
"A lot of people I've been talking with would prefer hanging on until next year and doing it in one shot," he said. "They don't want to see a rush job. They just want to see it done and done right."
The committee will recommend to council delaying the project until spring when the results of the state funding request are known. Meanwhile Felch said he wanted City Attorney Rob Jamo to issue an opinion on whether money in the street fund can be used to repair 14th Avenue.