After balking at approving the final cost for a downtown repaving project that spanned two years, the Spokane City Council agreed to pay up.
The council signed off Monday on a contract total that shaved $103,000 from initial estimates.
“We asked them to show us their work, and at the end of the day, they didn’t need that higher amount,” said City Councilwoman Candace Mumm, who asked twice to delay a vote on approving the final payments for work on the repaving of Lincoln and Monroe streets.
The project, with a final price nearing $3.6 million, began in summer 2016 and was finished this July, after prompting criticism from affected downtown business owners. The city’s engineering department requested lighting to allow for night paving and other traffic control measures that incrementally added to the cost, eventually exceeding the 10 percent amount that was set aside at the beginning of the project to cover unforeseen expenses.
Those are handled through what are known as “change orders,” requests from a contractor to revise the initial estimates. For the Lincoln and Monroe project, this included overtime, providing traffic control and additional sidewalk grinding work that was required due to snow plow damage caused during last year’s heavy winter.
After receiving final project costs from the head contractor, T. LaRiviere Equipment & Excavation based in Athol, Idaho, engineers were able to revise what would have been an additional $251,889 in final expenses for the project to $148,500, said Marlene Feist, strategic development director for the city’s Public Works Division.
“We were estimating what we thought could be the upper end, to cover all the change orders on the project,” Feist said of the initial estimate, which caused enough concern from council members that they delayed approval of the final payments for two weeks.
The $148,500 in additional expenses represents the amount the project overran cost estimates for the work, which will be made up through savings on other projects, Feist said.
City Councilwoman Karen Stratton, one of the lawmakers concerned that elected officials weren’t contacted as costs began to pile up, said she was satisfied with the final tally.
Kyle Twohig, Spokane’s engineering director, is revising the city’s change order paperwork , Feist said. She also noted that of the city’s previous 35 public construction projects, the average use of an administrative reserve was about 5 percent of the total cost, about half of what the city had set aside to cover unforeseen expenses.
The council approved the final cost unanimously Monday afternoon.
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