As soon as the snow melts, it’s full-steam ahead for the downtown water main and curb flare project.
Council awarded the more than $1.6 million project to Westhills Aggregates’ Monday night.
The Penticton company’s bid was the low bid and came in about $180,000 over budget. Council was told additional funding has been found and changes to the scope of the project would happen to ensure it would come in on budget.
Coun. Jason Weibe voiced concerns that it might come in even higher than the tender price and questioned the difference between bids.
“When we’re choosing the low bid and we’re looking at how substantially different the bids are how do we know that when the project is done that it won’t come in at twice as much?”
Dave Underwood from TRUE Consulting, hired by the village to oversee the project, said Westhills Aggregates’ bid was right on par with pre-tender estimates and he was confident that ways could be found to ensure the project remains on budget.
“It came in very close. It was quite right where we thought it would be,” he said during the council meeting. “What I would say is that the other bids were fluffed and that’s what we’re seeing a lot of in this, well you saw it the first time we had zero bids, we’ve been having this problem in the economy right now with all this grant money that is out there.”
No tenders were received last spring/summer when the village tendered the project the first time.
At the time contractors were too busy with other large projects funded through grants and construction related to wildfires throughout the province, Marg Coulson, CAO for the village said.
“It was a timing thing. They were all so busy and in the middle of other projects they didn’t even have time to fill out the paperwork. This time the tender was put out in December and they weren’t as busy,” she said.
Accounting for a significant chunk of the overage is additional costs with the Sparks Drive water main portion. The tender price is approximately $68,000 higher than estimated and an Archeology Impact Assessment is also require. The Keremeos Irrigation District has already committed to paying the additional $68,000, but that leaves the shortfall associated with the archeology assessment.
An estimate for the assessment was prepared by the Lower Similkameen Indian Band. The estimate includes about 86.5 days of work at varying pay scales depending on the expertise required.
The cost is estimated at $77,860.32.
Coulson said archeological assessments are a regular occurrence when development is being done in areas of interest.
“We didn’t know the LSIB would be interested in this particular area but it is something that happens quite often. Their is no archeological interest for 7th Avenue, so that’s why you’re not seeing an estimate for that part of the project,” she said, adding. “It is just an estimate. If nothing of interest is found then that amount of days might not be needed.”
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure also increased the scope of paving on the project on 7th Avenue and has increased their portion of funding by about $22,000.
That leaves about a $90,000 shortfall for the project.
“Coming in over budget is not an option, so we will relook at things. What they did when they tendered the work was that they tendered a complete wish list, if you will. If we could do everything we wanted what would it cost. We wanted to see where the prices would come in and we were hopeful that the prices would come in and we could include everything that we wanted,” she said.
Coulson said the main part of the project is to replace the water main underneath 7th Avenue and the rest is a bonus.
But in saying that she said the village is committed to putting in curb flares along 7th Avenue where 4th, 5th, and 6th streets intersect.
“Other savings could come up with contractors so we can cut cost without cutting the scope of the project but if we have to trim a couple things then we can do that too,” she said. “I would say that it might be that we only put curb flares in on the east side of the streets on 4th, 5th, and 6th.”
Other options might be to put off putting in trees along 7th Avenue and in the curb flares or not doing sidewalk work on 6th Street.
Coulson said now that the work is tendered it’s anticipated work will be underway in March. The village is working with the contractors to come up with a communication strategy so business owners and residents know when work will start and finish and when their business will not have water.
More information is anticipated within the next few weeks.