BERLIN — First initiated two years ago, improvements to a West Street culvert now have an official deadline of Memorial Day and an end price tag of about $175,000.
“This is a project we’ve been working on for a couple years now,” said Town Administrator Tony Carson.
Carson reminded the Town Council that the original assessment of the project was done back in 2011. At that time, it quickly became “apparent that the culvert that was under West Street was undersized,” according to Carson.
To date, the town has spent around $20,000 on costs related to the culvert upgrade as well as $25,000 in local grant funding. However, when bids were received this week it became clear that the replacement would carry a six-figure cost. Carson informed the council that additional funding has been received from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
“Fortunately, we were able to get a $129,000 grant from DNR,” he said.
Between the actual culvert upgrade, secondary work and home inspections, Carson expects the project to use most or all of the $175,000 the town has set aside in funding and grants. But it could have easily exceeded that, he noted, since the bids received ranged from $110,950 to $272,000.
“As [councilmember Paula] Lynch likes to say, this is a no-brainer,” Carson told the council. “We certainly would ask you to accept $110,000. We have done an extensive search on the background of the company and have found nothing but good reports on the work they’ve done, mostly in the Delaware area.”
The $110,950 bid came from A-Del Construction. While many of their projects take place in Delaware, Carson explained that A-Del is currently working in Salisbury and bid for the Berlin project because it already has equipment in the area. Though A-Del came in under the highest bidder by more than $160,000, Carson said that the town believes it will be able to negotiate the final price down even further.
“We’ve already had discussions today and we’re probably going to be able to reduce it another $4,000,” he said.
The huge discrepancy in bids surprised some on the council though the in-depth background check and long work history of A-Del seems to have soothed any ruffled feathers.
“I’m always worried about a company that bids so low from everyone else,” said Councilwoman Lisa Hall, “but their references have been checked and the state of Delaware certainly doesn’t mind doing business with them for a lot more money than us.”
The council voted unanimously to award the culvert project to A-Del.