Low Bid Brings Berlin Road Work Below Estimate

BERLIN – Road work will cost Berlin hundreds of thousands less than originally projected, staff reported this week during Monday night’s Berlin Mayor and Council meeting, after the lowest construction bid came in significantly under town cost estimates.

The $861,000 bid price, from A.C. Croll and Sons, came in at $400,000 less than the engineer’s estimate. Engineers projected that the surface work on Grice and Vine streets and Graham Avenue would cost $1.3 million.

“In several recent bids, costs have been lower than the original projection,” said Mayor Gee Williams.

Councilman Troy Purnell joked that the town would have enough left over after the bond issue to do some work on Harrison Ave., a deteriorating road that connects Main and Broad streets.

Bond funds must be used for a specific purpose as laid out in a bond ordinance, however.

“We can’t ask for any more than we’re going to use on the project,” said Williams.

“We don’t have to borrow so much money,” said Councilwoman Paula Lynch.

The council passed the bond ordinance later in the meeting, with the appropriate numbers reduced to reflect the low-bid estimate.

Town administrator Tony Carson said he expected the final costs, including contingencies, to reach the neighborhood of $1.1 million. Carson said he would inform the town council of the exact amount to be bonded out when that number is finalized, most likely by the next town council meeting.

The first bond payment will be made out of the fiscal year 2011 budget, according to Carson.

“The first payment will not be due until the next budget year,” Carson said.

The town also saved $10,000 on street improvement inspection services. The winning bidder, E & A Engineering, originally included funding for an out-of-town inspector in its bid, which raised the price considerably.

Under town law, town staff can negotiate with a bidder for a more acceptable bid, which Carson did in this case. Carson persuaded the company to replace the proposed out-of-area inspector with a local employee, shaving roughly $10,000 off the bid.

Williams, pleased at the progress made on the oft-discussed road projects, said he would like to see the improvement work completed before the Christmas holidays when the town becomes well populated as a result of special events and shopping specials.