Concord begins second attempt at hiring contractor for Main Street project
Ed Roberge poses for a portrait on Main Street; November 30, 2012. As the city engineer of Concord, Roberge has been a large help to the Main Street redesign project. (SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor Staff)
Concord is trying again to find a contractor for its Main Street redesign project.
This summer, the city received an offer from just one contractor for the construction project, and it was for double the budgeted price. Officials blamed the lack of response on bad timing, because the documents were first issued to contractors during the middle of their construction season.
The city issued a new document requesting contract proposals this week, and City Engineer Ed Roberge said he expected it would yield a better outcome.
“I think we’re confident that we’ll get more than one proposal this time,” he said.
The project’s budget and timeline remain the same, Roberge said.
The city is redesigning Main Street with the help of a $4.71 million federal grant. Designs include reducing traffic from four lanes to two lanes with a crossable center median, widening sidewalks, adding landscaping and public art and improving accessibility.
About $6.2 million of the total $10.35 million total project estimate is budgeted for construction. (Other costs include design work and $2.5 million to move utilities underground on South Main Street.)
The only bid submitted in August, from Pembroke-based F.L. Merrill Construction, was for $12.23 million. City officials stood by their budget estimates and rejected the single proposal.
Construction was scheduled to begin this fall, but that start was delayed until spring.
Roberge said this week that the delay should not affect the overall schedule of the project, which has a completion date of early 2015. Work this fall would have only lasted until mid-November, because the city planned to halt work during the holiday season at the request of downtown merchants. Most of the work is scheduled for next year, and construction crews will return in the spring and early summer of 2015 to complete the project.
“I think that’s still true with this one,” Roberge said. “We thought that we would substantially complete the work in one construction year.”
Roberge said the federal government, which is contributing a $4.71 million grant to the project, required the city to release the bid document this summer.
The basics of the new bid document are the same as the first document, Roberge said. Construction work will be done at night if it would “require alternating one-way traffic on Main Street or severely impact on-street parking, pedestrian access, or local business operations along Main Street,” according to the city’s request for proposals.
“It’s really substantially the same,” Roberge said. “Again, timing wasn’t to our advantage when we released it before.”
New in the second bid are specifications about required materials, which Roberge said had previously raised questions from contractors.
“We wanted to make sure that any of the material spec, be it granite, be it lighting . . . that those materials be as locally available as possible,” he said. “That’s really what the intent is. . . . We did clarify that in the bid that’s out now.”
The bid document also now includes plans to make storefronts accessible on Main Street. Roberge said the city has worked with the federal grant to include accessibility improvements to storefronts in the project; the work to eliminate steps into storefronts will be completed at no cost to property owners.
Still unknown is whether the project will include heated sidewalks powered by waste heat from a new Concord Steam plant in the South End. The utility is still working to secure financing for its new facility. The construction of a snowmelt system of varying sizes is included as an option in the bid document but could change depending on the future of Concord Steam.
“That hinges on, again, available funding and the viability of the system itself,” Roberge said.
Though the document lists a completion date of September 2015, Roberge said the work will be completed before that date.
“We thought we would probably be in the April, May, June, maybe beginning of July time frame to fully complete the project,” he said. “And our Sept. 1 completion date allows us to get all the necessary paperwork.”
Contractors must submit proposals by Jan. 24. Roberge said work would begin as soon as weather permits, but likely at the end of March or beginning of April.
The city has already separately requested contractor bids to move utilities underground on South Main Street. Roberge said he has an “apparent low bidder” but has not yet awarded the contract. Utility work was also initially scheduled to begin this fall.
“The underground utility work isn’t all that substantial, so we think we can get in and out of there with the utility contractor pretty quickly,” Roberge said.