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Lewis Street project to begin

The Town of Pagosa Springs will be soliciting bids soon for summer construction on Lewis Street, between Fourth and Third Streets.

During a special meeting of the Pagosa Springs Town Council last Thursday morning, Town Manager David Mitchem was directed by council to draft a request for proposal for the Lewis Street work, a request for proposal that would include stipulations for at least 50 percent use of local materials and labor, as well as a 2.5 percent preference on the total bid.

Thursday’s special meeting was requested by council member Darrell Cotton during last Tuesday’s April council meeting following a presentation by Davis Engineering representatives regarding cost estimates and scope of proposed work on the street. At that time, Mike Davis (owner of Davis Engineering) said that council needed to strictly define “local” (for determining bidding preferences) for an RFP draft.

Davis also told council last Tuesday that it should determine what percentages to use for establishing a local preference threshold.

Prior to those recommendations, Davis presented various options for the town to consider regarding the various improvements required for Lewis Street.

Davis’ cost estimates represented a multi-phased approach as opposed to a single project. Because of costs associated with mobilizing crews, council appeared open to tackling the project all at once.

Mitchem told council that he believed that, in the interest of financing the work, he preferred to see the town bid out construction as a single project. Stating a belief that interest rates would increase over the next year, coupled with rising fuel prices (driving up labor and material costs), Mitchem stated that the town needed to move quickly on financing, while avoiding potentially higher construction estimates and interest rates that a phased project could entail.

On Thursday, Mitchem added that financing mechanisms were in place. Furthermore, Mitchem added that, with debt obligations for the Ross Aragon Community Center ending in mid-2014, the town could reallocate monies from those payments towards Lewis Street financing, essentially paying off the note a few years sooner than the initial 10-year obligation.

Tuesday’s presentation by Davis Engineering also dealt with idiosyncracies of Lewis Street. With portions of the street sloping from north to south, traffic on that street has long dealt with drainage issues, especially during cold weather (when ice dams have been a problem). Davis stated that realigning the slope came with its own set of problems and at a significant expense. Aside from needing to add large amounts of subgrade to the south side of the street (while levelling the north side), as well as retaining walls and taller gutters, the realignment would also cancel out the advantage the north side of the street has with direct sunlight and its effect on melting snow and ice.

Davis suggested keeping the current alignment of the street (with improved subgrade throughout the project’s length), but with improved drainage, including added drains and underground pipes.

Although the project could be stretched out over two years, it would be bid as a single project with possible incentives built into the RFP encouraging completion in one year. Davis recommended that, if the contractor required a second year to complete the improvements, an RFP would stipulate completion of the portion of work undertaken during the first year. To that end, Davis recommended that the section of work between Third and Fourth streets receive top priority — the area of the street adjacent to the school.

Sidewalks along that portion of the street would be geothermally heated.

Geothermal heating was a consideration when discussing the project. In light of a proposed expansion of the town’s geothermal utility (see related article), council members Darrell Cotton and Stan Holt both asked Davis if the work would allow for laying geothermal conduits should a geothermal utility break ground this year.

On Tuesday, Davis said that it would be in the best interest of a geothermal utility to take advantage of the work on Lewis Street.

With considerations in place for local labor and the use of local materials and with a bidding threshold set to encourage bids by local contractors, council passed terms for an RFP for Lewis Street improvements with a unanimous vote.

According to Mitchem, local preference terms in the Lewis Street RFP would be codified at a later date in the form of an ordinance.

With a project estimated to cost anywhere between $1 million and $1.6 million, the town will begin soliciting bids within the next few weeks. Barring any unforeseen complications, Mitchem said that the work should begin some time in late May or early June.

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