South 6th Street closed until Oct. 8

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SUN photo/Ed Fincher A construction worker installs a barricade and signs on South 6th Street in downtown Pagosa Springs Wednesday morning. The road will be closed to traffic between U.S. 160 and Zuni Street until Oct. 8.

South 6th Street in downtown Pagosa Springs will be closed to traffic between U.S. 160 and Zuni Street until Oct. 8 to accommodate construction of access ramps and installation of the pedestrian bridge that will connect the Riverwalk section behind Town Hall with the section that runs through Centennial Park.

In a phone call to SUN staff Tuesday, Bob Hart, of Hart Construction, explained, “We need to close Sixth Street because of the limited space there. We’re going to have concrete trucks and dump trucks and all kinds of stuff, so closing the road is just the safest thing to do.”

For safety reasons, the road will be closed 24/7 for the next three weeks to vehicular traffic and signs at each end will indicate detour routes, but a path will be provided through the area for pedestrian use.

The street will, however, reopen temporarily this weekend and construction activities will stop for the ColorFest celebration, with work resuming on Monday.

In an email sent to SUN staff Tuesday, Town Planner James Dickhoff confirmed the project, which was approved by town council earlier this summer, “was awarded to Hart Construction through a competitive bid process. The three bids were very close with Hart the low bidder at $478,000.”

SUN photo/Ed Fincher Bob Hart and another worker from Hart Construction look over the site where a pedestrian bridge will soon be installed. The road will be closed to traffic between U.S. 160 and Zuni Street until Oct. 8.
SUN photo/Ed Fincher
Bob Hart and another worker from Hart Construction look over the site where a pedestrian bridge will soon be installed. The road will be closed to traffic between U.S. 160 and Zuni Street until Oct. 8.

While Hart’s contract with the town dictates the project must be completed within 120 days, it also allows for construction to stop if winter weather becomes a problem and to start up again in the spring.

The project has encountered a number of snags up to this point.

At a town council meeting in late May, Dickhoff announced that the town had been awarded a grant from Great Outdoors Colorado for construction of the bridge, “However, in the course of their determination, they did receive sixty applications, and we were ranked nine out of those sixty. We were the last grant application they were able to recommend for funding, but through that process they did somewhat run out of money, so they only had $242,000 remaining versus our requested $350,000.”

Dickhoff explained that while the town did have the option to reject the partial award and resubmit an application for the next grant cycle in the fall — and the feedback he had received from GOCO staff indicated the town had a very strong application — there was no guarantee. Especially after last September’s flooding on the Front Range, other towns could come forward with more pressing needs.

After some debate, the council decided to accept the partial award, but that was just the beginning of the headaches the bridge caused the councilors.

At the June 19 meeting, Dickhoff came back to council with more bad news. There had been some sort of communication breakdown between the bridge manufacturer and town staff. The bridge design council had chosen in May actually turned out to be $21,000 more than the previously quoted price. The town could change the order to one the same price it had originally ordered, but it would have a completely different design.

When shown pictures of the new design, council member Kathy Lattin said, “That is ugly. I don’t like it at all. It is hideous and absurd.”

Councilor Tracy Bunning agreed and asked if there was another bridge vendor the town could use. Dickhoff agreed he could check around. Councilor John Egan then asked who was responsible for the misunderstanding.

“I think we will share the responsibility,” Dickhoff responded. “We thought they were referencing this bridge,” Dickhoff brought up a slide on his computer, “when they were actually referencing this bridge.” Dickhoff indicated the second design option. “I will certainly accept responsibility for not recognizing that in their quote … It was really the format in which they gave us the quote.”

At the July 1 meeting, however, Dickhoff re-presented all of the design options with the new price structure, but then announced, “I was able to negotiate lowering the price and getting the additions at cost and absorbing the redesign, so the additional cost, is no longer twenty-one thousand dollars; I was able to negotiate it down to twenty-one hundred dollars.”

Dickhoff reassured council this was the design they had originally picked and that it would match the other two bridges that already exist.

In Tuesday’s email, Dickhoff explained that Hart Construction installed the pedestrian bridge between Town Park and Mary Fisher Park in 2007, so not only did the company have the lowest bid, it also had a proven track record for installing bridges in town. Crossfire, LLC, bid $487,858.79 and UCAL, Inc., bid $480,075.00.

The total cost town council has budgeted for the project, $742,000, will include the actual bridge itself, along with engineering, construction management, bridge abutment and the construction of access ramps and trails leading up to both ends of the bridge.