AMSTERDAM — The Common Council awarded the contract for the Church Street reconstruction project to Peter Luizzi & Bro. Contracting for $1.97 million during a special meeting on Wednesday.
The contractor was the apparent low bidder when responses to a request for proposals were opened in June. The project will involve the full-depth pavement reconstruction of approximately 0.85 miles of Church Street from Forest Avenue to Clizbe Avenue.
The city originally planned to make a quick award decision, but was delayed while the bid was reviewed by the state Department of Transportation to ensure it met requirements attached to the grant-funded project.
The city in 2018 was awarded a $900,000 grant through the state Dormitory Authority and $1 million grant through DOT to cover the cost of the project. The project was originally expected to get underway in 2020 before the pandemic put those plans on hold.
“I’m happy that we can finally get started, happy that DOT gave us the approval to go ahead,” Mayor Michael Cinquanti said.
City Engineer Mike Clark indicated that the extended review period by DOT was to ensure Peter Luizzi made a good faith effort to seek subcontractors to meet the state’s women and minority-owned enterprise participation goals required for the project.
“There is a process to go through,” Clark said. “You have to show you made the effort, that is what Peter Luizzi & Bros. have done. DOT has approved the award, so we’re advancing the project.”
The city and its contractors may eventually have to seek an official waiver from the goals from the state as the project progresses if the required thresholds are not met.
The city was previously forced to reject bids for the project in May and advertise the project a second time after an oversight led to the omission of MWBE goal requirements for the state grant funded work that disqualified the bidders.
The project that has been years in the making has been plagued by delays and the late contract award on Wednesday means the work is no longer expected to be completed this year as originally planned.
“I’m glad we finally got it approved and are ready to start rolling, but I’m a little disappointed we couldn’t get the whole project done this year,” 4th Ward Alderman Stephen Gomula said.
The primary purpose of the Church Street reconstruction project is to correct issues along the stretch of road that emerged following a previous reconstruction project from 2008. After that work wrapped up, nearby residents discovered the passage of heavy vehicles along the roadway caused their homes to vibrate, sparking fears the activity would cause structural damage.
The project is expected to get underway sometime after Labor Day with the installation of Americans with Disabilities Act compliant sidewalks, replacement of curbs and related infrastructure along Church Street.
The actual reconstruction of the road is expected to be delayed until next spring due to the normal Oct.31 winter shutdown of paving under state contracts. Asphalt plants typically shutdown as winter approaches and reopen around mid-April.
Clark anticipates the full project can be complete by the end of June 2022, which is the same month the state grant awards expire. If work is delayed for any reason, Clark noted that the city can seek an extension from the state.
Initial work this fall may cause minor traffic delays as contractors work along the side of the roadway. Reconstruction work next spring is expected to cause more significant impacts when alternating one-way traffic signalled by flaggers will be implemented due in part to the inability to detour traffic from Church Street which carries Route 67.
“There is no other safe way to do it,” Clark said. “Although [surrounding] streets could handle passenger traffic, it would be problematic to handle heavy trucks and Church Street ceraintly handles its percentage of heavy trucks.”
Although the decision on awarding a contract has finally been made, city officials must still decide how to cover project costs that exceed the available grant funding. Beyond the roughly $70,000 exceedance by the contract with Peter Luizzi, the city has hired M.J. Engineering for up to $195,000 to provide on-site oversight throughout the construction of the project.
The city could use a portion of the combined $1.67 million in funding the city received from DOT for road resurfacing to cover the remaining costs related to the reconstruction project. The Common Council earlier this month awarded the contract for the annual road program to Peter Luizzi for $1.13 million.
After all of the setbacks the project has gone through, officials are pleased that work is finally set to begin in just a few short weeks.
“It’s a long time coming, we’ve needed this for quite a while,” Gomula said. “I hope by the end of next year everyone is satisfied with the finished product.”