County awards $1.81 million paving contract

Park Avenue paving should begin soon, with the Board of County Commissioners awarding the construction contract June 5 to Grand Junction-based Elam Construction Inc.

According to county staff, at $1.81 million, Elam provided the lowest of four bids and did so without stipulating their price may fluctuate depending on the price of oil at construction time.

All other bidders, including local companies Strohecker Asphalt and Paving and Four Corners Materials, included an oil variance in their pricing.

Although Elam Construction won with the low bid, Strohecker came in a close second at $1.84 million. Four Corners Materials provided the highest bid at $2.16 million.

Archuleta County Administrator Greg Schulte said all the bidders were “deemed qualified and responsive, and all four were recommended.

“The attractiveness of the Elam bid was price with no oil variance,” and that, Schulte said, coupled with the company’s 50-year track record anchored Elam as the county’s pick.

Nevertheless, and because of Strohecker’s exceedingly competitive bid and the fact that two local players entered the bidding fray, Archuleta County Commissioner Clifford Lucero suggested exploring a policy that would give preference to local contractors who could meet the low bid by an established margin — perhaps by 1 or 1.5 percent.

The move would not be incongruent with existing county policy, as the county already gives preference to local vendors for non-capital purchases. For example, all things such as shipping and service being equal, the county can purchase from local vendors who don’t necessarily provide the lowest bid, provided the vendor’s pricing comes within 10 percent of the most competitive offer.

However, while the approach may work well for things such as office supplies or printing services, it could amount to tens of thousands of dollars on a major capital improvement project. That said, Lucero cautioned that the idea warranted careful, thorough and thoughtful exploration, including deeper discussions of the pricing margin, and whether the policy might be enacted as a short term effort to alleviate local economic woes.

“I want us to keep our eyes open and do what’s best for our local community,” Lucero said.

Commissioners Bob Moomaw and John Ranson said they are willing to explore the idea further.

While the commissioners may soon explore ways to draft policy that might help pump dollars into the local economy, Elam Construction will begin preparations for the project. As part of those preparations, Elam leadership pledged during the June 5 contract award meeting to buy supplies locally and to utilize local subcontractors.

According to county staff, Elam will resurface Park Avenue and a portion of Cloud Cap Avenue. All told, more than two miles of road will be paved. Davis Engineering, which performed design and engineering services, will manage the project in conjunction with county staff.

With Park Avenue bids coming in at nearly $500,000 less than anticipated, the road’s future as a paved thoroughfare appears secure, thus leaving county staff with leftover dollars that may be funneled toward a second and attendant project — paving Holiday Avenue.

Since 2007, commissioner commitments to pave the pothole scarred roadway have come and gone, although Schulte said with crews and materials already staged on Park Avenue, it makes sense to pursue the paving of Holiday Avenue — if dollars allow.

To that end, Schulte approved a change order May 20 that gave Davis Engineering the go-ahead to undertake design work and construction management that would entail resurfacing Holiday from Midiron Drive to Masters Circle. Schulte said he expected design and engineering documents back from Davis June 29.

With those documents in hand, Schulte said he can pursue a construction change order with Elam Construction, or can put the paving of Holiday Avenue out to bid separately. Ultimately, the bids will determine whether paving Holiday Avenue makes it onto the project roster this summer; however, Schulte said the lower-than-expected cost of Park Avenue makes the prospect of resurfacing Holiday “encouraging.”

Paving Park Avenue is expected to begin in mid June and will be completed by early November.

County staff will post updates, progress reports, road detour and closure information on the Web at www.archuletacounty.org

james@pagosasun.com