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Decatur street bids are over budget

By Chris Paschenko 340-2442

Bids opened this week for a Decatur street and sidewalk project were at least $188,971 over budget, calling into question the scope of construction plans.

City Councilman Ronny Russell said Wednesday that he will speak with Mark Petersohn, the city's director of engineering, to discuss solutions.

Petersohn is out of the office until Friday, Russell said.

"The estimate was between $450,000 and $500,000, if I recall correctly," Russell said. "However, at this point, we expected it to be high, as all the other construction projects lately have been."

The council in January rejected bids that were $500,000 more the $3.9 million the city budgeted to build three fire stations.

The council intends to fund the street and fire station projects from part of a $16.2 million general warrant sale in October.

Gail Busbey, the city's chief financial officer, said the city would allocate the money as effectively as it could.

"The money may not be available to accomplish all the street projects on the list," Busbey said. "But that is premature until Mark makes a recommendation."

Brooks and Son Construction of Elkmont submitted the low bid of $688,971 for projects to widen Sandlin Road Southwest from two to three lanes between Austinville Road and Wilson Morgan Park.

The bids also covered building sidewalks on Fifth Avenue Southwest from Brookhaven Middle School to the park.

During a community meeting in November, Petersohn said the city has sufficient right of way to prevent the Sandlin Road project from bringing the street closer to residents' front doors.

Russell said the street and sidewalk improvements would improve traffic flow, traffic safety and storm-water drainage.

"It will also provide direct pedestrian access from Wilson Morgan Park to Brookhaven School, the Aquadome and the Austin High baseball field, which is a great improvement in the quality of life for residents of Districts 1 and 4," Russell said.

Carl Prewitt, a city engineer, opened the bids Tuesday from three competitors. He said the Sandlin Road project covers about a half mile and about a mile of sidewalk.

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