Rising construction costs may force city to postpone North Pine reconstruction

By Ralph Echtinaw

After waiting years to see their sewer, water and road surface modernized, North Pine Street residents may have to wait longer.

Blame it on skyrocking construction costs, as bids came in much higher than city officials expected.

Last December it was estimated that the complete reconstruction of North Pine and part of Center Street would cost $3.8 million. But bids came in at $5.5 million from Crawford Contracting of Mt. Pleasant and $6 million from McGuick Sand & Gravel of Mt. Pleasant.

“It’s going to be difficult for us to recommend a way to do that project,” said City Manager Kurt Giles. “We expected high prices but not quite that high.”

Public Services Director Keith Risdon told city council Tuesday that he spoke to the contractors, and “they’re looking at ideas to bring (costs) down. One of them could possibly save $200,000 on the sanitary sewer. A lot of it has to do with the nature of construction and material cost.”

Giles said he talked with a bond attorney and financial consultant Monday, and they’ll get back to him with a recommendation on whether the city can afford to take on the bond debt necessary to pay for a $5.5 million job.

Risdon said there are a lot of moving parts. “We’ve got a dozen things on the plate right now, and we’re trying to find the best way of addressing this.”

Salt storage

Council approved spending up to $145,000 to erect a 44×50 foot building to contain the salt the city spreads on roads during winter months. Giles said the new edifice is modeled on the Gratiot County Road Commission’s salt storage building. The salt storage area will be 32×50 feet. The roof will overhang an attached 12×16 foot equipment room and a 12×34 foot open storage area for blades, trucks, salt spreaders, etc.

The structure will replace a salt “barn” that was damaged by high winds in November 2021 and since demolished. The city collected a $66,000 insurance payout and will use that to help pay for the new salt building.

The DPW will act as general contractor and solicit bids once the architect’s drawings are finalized for framing, cement work, fencing and electrical work. Dewitt Lumber will provide the material. “Our intent would be to have this facility available for salt delivery late this summer,” said Risdon in a written report.

The foundation of the old salt barn with its 7-foot poured concrete walls is expected to be used for equipment and/or material storage, Risdon said. “Currently we have open storage of some bulk materials which are segregated from other bulk materials (stone, sand, cold patch asphalt, etc.) which we could expand. We are also considering possibly adding a new roof so it could be used as covered storage for some of the seasonal equipment stored in the yard, i.e., leaf rigs and hot patch machine.”

The cost of the new salt storage building represents a savings of $130,000 over the $275,000 salt “dome” that administrators recommended last year and council shot down.

Once construction is complete, the city’s salt will be moved from the drying beds at the wastewater treatment plant, which was the only place to put it after the salt barn became unsafe.

Summer paving

Council approved spending $137,626 with Central Asphalt of Mt. Pleasant to pave North Delaware from M46 to North Street and North East Street from M46 to East Saginaw.

New pavement sealer approved

Every year the city treats certain streets with a sealant to make the pavement last longer. Until now that’s been using a process known as chip seal.

But a new product called GSB-88 has come on the scene, and it’s much cheaper than chip seal. 

Council approved spending $74,000 with Fahrner Asphalt Sealers of Saginaw to use GSB-88 on Michigan Avenue (from city limits to M46), Woodside Drive (from Michigan Avenue to South Main), Hubbard Street (from city limits to Giddings Place) and Olive Street (from Corinth to Hebron).

Risdon said it would cost $218,600 to chip seal that same surface.

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