Sidewalks, bike lanes and crosswalks on Lower Ganges and Rainbow roads are on the horizon at last with phase two of the North Ganges Transportation Plan contracted to begin.
The Salt Spring Transportation Commission transacted a major business item last Tuesday when commissioners voted to accept the lowest bid for the construction project, even thoug that bid came in significantly higher than the most recent cost estimate. Don Mann Excavating’s initial bid of $1,827,571 was nearly 23 per cent higher than the $1.49 million estimated by consultants at JE Anderson in April, while a second bid by Sparker Construction was 37 per cent higher at $2.048 million.
CRD staff negotiated a reduced price with Don Mann Excavating that brings it closer to 14 per cent higher than the estimate, for a total contract of $1.696 million.
“It’s expensive and I think we were all in agreement that it feels like a lot of money. We didn’t have any dissenting members, but we did have a lot of discussion about what we possibly could do,” commission chair Gayle Baker said after the meeting.
“It was a more difficult decision than you might think for the commissioners, staff and myself to come to,” said Salt Spring’s CRD director Gary Holman. “I think part of the quandary was, we could delay it but it wasn’t clear at all that we would get a better bid. It’s not clear that construction activity will wane, and in fact as we move through COVID recovery it will likely increase.”
A staff report notes the previous cost estimate of $1.1 million done in 2017 was largely based on figures from 2013, when the first phase of the NGTP was completed. Inflation and COVID-19 factors related to staffing, supply and transportation went into the most recent costing.
SSITC had allocated $2.026 million for the project according to the five-year capital plan approved in 2018. That amount was changed to somewhat over $1.3 million in the five-year plan approved in 2020, so commissioners had to amend the plan at the May 26 meeting to account for $955,614 in extra spending this year.
Project funding comes partly through a $1-million special tax requisition that was collected over four years, of which $870,000 still remains in the project’s reserve fund. The fund generated another $85,000 in interest that will be used for the project. Previous CRD director Wayne McIntyre allocated an additional $685,000 in gas tax funds to the project. More than $258,000 has already been spent on designs, archeological permits, project management and property acquisition.
Improvements are expected to be done by the end of the year, barring any delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
For more on this story, see the June 3 issue of the Driftwood.