South Bend 2-way streets proposal hits a road block

Plans to bring two-way traffic to some one-way streets in downtown South Bend hit a roadblock today.

“Pretty much pushed our project on a little bit of a tighter schedule for construction this summer,” said Kara Boyles, Deputy Director of Public Works. “We’ll actually be about a month behind.”

Bids on a project to return two-way traffic to parts of Lafayette and William streets were opened today and both came in way over budget.

“Unfortunately, the engineer’s estimate was around $750,000 and the bids we received were more like $1.1 million,” said Boyles.

In fact, the lowest bid came in some $384,000 over the city’s budget, or 51 percent more than what the city had available to spend.

It looks like the project could end up being ‘half’ the project it started out to be.

“We had this meeting, we actually rejected the bids and so we will go back and look at the design, make some changes, try to identify ways where we can cut some costs but still bring forth a quality project,” said Boyles.

For instance, the bids opened today called for about 100 trees to be placed in ornamental sidewalk grates. That number could be greatly reduced when the project is rebid later this month.

“Some of this is more of the decorative work, tree grating that added a much higher cost than we anticipated,” said Boyles.

The inclusion of bump-out curbs also appears to have added costs. “The bump-outs are a hand item so we wouldn’t be using a curb machine or some more automated method so that hand method is, that method really drives up the cost. So options would be actually to do some sort of pavement design instead of using concrete curb so we’ll consider that,” said Boyles.

The bids opened today were quickly rejected and the South Bend Board of Works approved a request to put the project out for re-bid. The second round of bids will be opened July 8th.

It was originally hoped that the project would be completed by mid-October. The rejection of today’s bids pushes that back at least a month.

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