Reconstruction of the roadway and streetscape on East Burlington Street in downtown Riverside won’t begin until spring 2016 at the earliest, after trustees voted unanimously on Thursday night to reject all four bids it received for the work.
The lowest of the bids, from Gilberts-based Copenhaver Construction, came in at $2.45 million — nearly $900,000 higher than the project’s initial estimate of about $1.6 million.
In addition, because the village’s project got pushed back to the Illinois Department of Transportation’s July bidding period, it would have meant construction would not have started until sometime in September.
That would have meant work on the streetscape would have continued possibly into December, disrupting retailers on the street during the Christmas holiday season.
“We really wanted to get started on it this year, but the important thing is to do the project correctly and not be rushed,” said Village President Ben Sells in a phone interview.
Because the project is receiving $1.1 million in grant funding through the state and federal governments, the timeline for bidding has been controlled by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT). Riverside had hoped to get onto IDOT’s June bidding calendar, but the agency in late May asked village officials for additional documentation, Sells said.
That meant the project would need to be delayed until September, which Sells said would hurt businesses on the street.
“The big thing that threw a wrench into this was getting bumped to the July [bid period],” Sells said.
The later bid period, said Sells, also affected the number of contractors bidding on the project and the prices they submitted. Riverside now is shooting to be part of IDOT’s bidding period in November, with construction slated to begin in March or April 2016.
Waiting to begin construction early next year should increase the number of bidders for the work, said Sells, and drive more competitive pricing.
“I think we’ll get more bidders and better prices if we go to the November bid letting,” Sells said. “Why rush it? If we can get better pricing let’s do this. Why put our businesses through this in the heart of the holiday season.”
Bids ranged from Copenhaver’s $2.45 million to a bid of nearly $3 million, nearly double the initial cost estimate, which Riverside determined while applying for grant funding in 2013.
Riverside received two grants for the work — a $421,500 federal grant to offset the cost of repaving the entire length of East Burlington Street, from Longcommon Road to Harlem Avenue, and a $754,660 Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program (ITEP) grant from the state for the downtown streetscape.
The streetscape improvements include new brick paver sidewalks, including the use of permeable pavers, hand-built raised limestone planters, new trees, and features such as clearly marked crosswalks, lighted bollards, benches, bike racks, a drinking fountain and decorative signage at the entrance ways to the business district.
While the village will have the opportunity to make minor tweaks to the design before the November bid period, the one submitted to IDOT will largely be the one approved by officials in late 2014. Bid documents are due to IDOT by Aug. 17.
As for the hefty markup the village saw during the July bid period, Sells said the biggest change was in the cost for resurfacing the roadway, which was about $500,000 higher than the initial estimate.
The village is paying for its portion of that work with motor fuel tax funds and money collected via the village’s non-home rule sales tax, and Sells indicated Riverside should be able to cover any increased cost for paving through those funds.
How the village plans on covering increased costs related to the streetscape project is unclear. The Riverside Village Board will begin discussing its 2016 capital improvement plan and general operating budget in early fall.
If the bid process goes as planned and Riverside decides to move ahead with construction, work would begin in March or April and last for about 90 days, depending on weather.