Amsterdam mulls jumpstarting next year’s repaving project

Utility workers smooth over an access point where new natural gas lines were replaced on E. Main Street and State Highway 5 in Amsterdam in March.

Utility workers smooth over an access point where new natural gas lines were replaced on E. Main Street and State Highway 5 in Amsterdam in March.

AMSTERDAM — Annual road repaving could get underway early next spring in Amsterdam under a concept pitched by City Engineer Mike Clark to the Common Council this past week.

Wary of volatile construction costs, the city advertised its annual road repaving contract in June with a base bid of streets most in need and an alternate list of streets in poor condition that could be added onto the work depending on returned price quotes.

The city ultimately moved forward with the work on just the base list of 20 streets spanning 3.75 centerline miles for an estimated $1.84 million under a contract with the lowest bidder, Del Signore Blacktop Paving. The city only received $1.78 million total from the state Department of Transportation this year for the annual road program.

That work is progressing now within budget and is expected to wrap up by the end of the month, Clark reported on Tuesday.

Del Signore in its bid estimated the cost of repaving the 22 streets on the alternate list at approximately $1.25 million. Clark is recommending the city move forward with that work next spring under the existing contract.

“The contract with the current paving contractor would still be in effect,” Clark said.

Since there is already a contract in place, the city would realize a savings on insurance and other one-time costs that are incurred upfront that have already been paid.

“There is certainly a cost advantage,” Clark said.

The city would also benefit from locked-in estimates for the work in a still volatile market which led Amsterdam to take a conservative approach to bidding out the road program with separate lists to begin with.

“That uncertainty is still there and I think it’s going to be there into next year,” Clark said. “The cost of paving in general, like everything else in this country, is directly proportional to oil and diesel costs.”

The existing contract includes provisions allowing for adjustments to address increases in the prices of fuel and asphalt as released by DOT each month, which Clark indicated contributed to Del Signore’s willingness to maintain their bid price next spring.

Officials could modify the list of streets or make additions depending on the amount of funding the city receives for repaving next year from DOT. Clark expects annual repaving aid will be maintained around this year’s level when it is announced around March.

Setting up the repaving project before the year is up would allow the work to begin almost immediately after asphalt plants reopen in the spring.

“We have the option,” Clark said, “to do these alternate streets right out of the gate in the spring, which would be a nice change.”

An early start would enable Department of Public Works staff to tackle prep work performed by the city ahead of the busy construction season to free them up for other tasks later in the year.

It would also provide flexibility to add streets for repaving if the project comes in under budget. Clark noted that the repaving contracts are always estimated from approximate measurements with the ultimate cost coming down to the actual amount of materials used in the field.

“You have the option to do more later on if need be if there is additional money remaining,” Clark said. “We can take advantage of the entire summer to do it

The advanced approach could be opportune, according to Mayor Michael Cinquanti, who noted the city began planning this year’s repaving project in May only for the work to still be going on in the fall.

“No matter how early we start,” Cinquanti said, “everything is drawn out.”

The streets on the alternate list are likely still the most in need of repaving and the city could add others in rough shape that have been identified since the spring, Cinquanti said.

“It makes a heck of a lot of sense,” Cinquanti said. “I’m really interested in taking a look at that and in the next few weeks making a decision with Mike.”

Reach Ashley Onyon at [email protected] or @AshleyOnyon on Twitter.

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