‘It’s scary’: Costs for 2 major Butler County road projects are ballooning

Butler County Engineer Greg Wilkens has a $38 million capital projects list for 2019, but the second phase of Tylersville Road widening in West Chester Twp. was recently cut from the list for this year because bids came in about $1 million higher than estimates. The project to enhance safety in the congested area has been delayed previously by difficult right-of-way purchases. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
Butler County Engineer Greg Wilkens has a $38 million capital projects list for 2019, but the second phase of Tylersville Road widening in West Chester Twp. was recently cut from the list for this year because bids came in about $1 million higher than estimates. The project to enhance safety in the congested area has been delayed previously by difficult right-of-way purchases. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

The bottleneck busting project to widen Tylersville Road at the Interstate 75 interchange has been delayed again because bids came in $1 million over the estimate.

The project to ease congestion and enhance safety on Tylersville Road came in over the $2 million estimate, so Butler County Engineer Greg Wilkens has deferred the work to next year, hoping bids will be more favorable in the fall.

The county received three bids:

• Sunesis Construction Company, $3 million

• Ford Development, $3.18 million

• Barrett Paving Materials Inc., $3.37 million

“It’s scary,” Wilkens said about the bids. “It’s scary when you look at the Union Centre interchange, too. Our estimate has ballooned on that but we haven’t even gotten the bids yet.”

The second phase of the Tylersville Road project has already been delayed because acquiring right of way needed for the widening has been challenging.

The project entails adding a westbound lane on the north side of the road from the interstate to Cox Road. To make that happen, access driveways to the rear of the eateries near Home Depot must be moved. There will now be two access roads to the rear service road, the current one at Dudley Drive and a new one that will run through the old Sunoco gas station site.

Wilkens’ office spent almost $2.6 million acquiring the land necessary to complete the project.

The estimate for the UCB interchange jumped $3 million to $17 million, and bids for that project are due April 16. The township authorized issuing $14 million in tax increment financing (TIF)-backed bonds in February but officials said they can pay cash if the bids are higher.

The Union Centre Boulevard interchange will be restructured with a diverging diamond interchange, or DDI, that will create a “free flowing” pattern with fewer left turns and traffic signals, according to officials.

MORE: West Chester Twp. trustees agree to sell $14 million in bonds for UCB diverging diamond

Trustee President Mark Welch said the township can handle $3 million but will have to take a hard look if the prices are really high.

“I would say before the divergent diamond would be a no-go, because it is such an important part of the central business district down there, that’s going to have to increase substantially,” Welch said. “Things would have to really go up and we’d have to think hard and long as to whether we wanted to take that much cash out of the TIF.”

The township has $31.7 million in the Union Centre TIF fund.