Franklin streetscape project hits speed bump

A major project in Franklin has hit a speed bump as bids for the Main Street Streetscaping were rejected as they were way over the engineer’s estimate.

The project’s winning bidder was expected to be awarded at Monday’s council meeting, but the lowest bid was nearly $700,000 over engineer’s estimate of $11.99 million for the project.

City Manager Jonathan Westendorf said bids ranged from $13.89 million to more than $15.55 million, all over the 10% threshold to award the bids. He said state law required the bids to be rejected and city officials will have to redo the bidding process. In addition, a new state law will not take effect until October that increases the overbid threshold to 20% of the project costs.

Westendorf told Franklin City Council there were a number of reasons for the high bids that were submitted for the project including tight timelines for contractors and increased costs for construction material and labor.

He said the underground components costs came in higher than estimate for flowable fill concrete for the water mains and those costs are anticipated to increase 15% to 20% every two months. In addition, piping for the 2,642 linear foot storm sewer also went from $135 per linear foot to $290 per linear foot, Westendorf said.

“We are refining the bid and will also put out alternate bids for the project,” Westendorf said.

During the council meeting, Westendorf said he was “concerned about losing the faith of council, downtown merchants, future developers and residents.” He said this project needs to be completed or the city cannot move forward with the downtown transformation.

“I understand how it happened but we have to do this project,” said Councilman Denny Centers. “We’ve come too far for us not to do it.”

Councilwoman Debbie Fouts said, “the bottom line is that we move forward.”

Westendorf said the project will be rebid on Aug. 30 and said the bid opening will be on Sept. 20 and expects to award the bid on Sept. 25. He also said the city is planning to sell up to $12 million in bonds to finance the project.

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