Iowa Avenue, as pictured from Southwest Third Street Monday afternoon. A project to install pavement and sidewalks from Southwest Third Street to Southwest Seventh Street is awaiting a plan revision after bids for the work came in far higher than estimated by Ardurra Engineers in Ada County.
FRUITLAND — As city officials work to improve city streets and sidewalks, they’re finding themselves staring down inflation’s impact on the final invoices for the work. One example is the South Iowa Avenue project, with its sealed bids having been unsealed by city officials on Feb. 15.
“Last year, we got $250,000 from [the Local Highway Technical Assistance Council] to do the Iowa Avenue sidewalk project, it’s part of the application,” said Transportation Engineer Bill Russell. “We bid it last year. We received no bids last year, so we took a step back and said ‘Let’s really advertise it, let’s get the word out.’”
At its regular meeting on Feb. 27, the Fruitland City Council reviewed bids for the project. But rather than simply zero in on the lowest bidder, councilors were taken aback to find that even the lowest bid sounded alarm bells for them.
Ardurra Engineers in Ada County, which is providing services for the project, provided city officials with an estimate of $257,713. Following are the bids received for the project, the lowest exceeding Ardurra’ estimate by 39%.
• LaRiviere, Inc. of Rathdrum was the lowest bidder at $395,193.
• Paul Construction of Nampa came in with a bid of $397,213.
• Blue Sky Construction of Meridian made a bid of $529,622 — roughly double Ardurra’s estimate.
“Just the asphalt paving … it was 200-something bucks a ton,” said Russell. “It was just astronomical.”
According to a letter to Russell’s office, officials at Ardurra recommended that the city reject the bids and have their office rework the plans for the project to be put out for a second round of sealed bids. The cost to have the plans reworked is $5,100, and will see some items of work performed by city crews alongside contractors.
Russell related that LHTAC officials gave him their blessing to have city crews do some items of work. Public Works Director Jerry Campbell said this could include resetting mailboxes to grade, and moving signs and manholes. City crews could work on these smaller pieces of the project during the summer.
“The contractor’s just put a high estimated cost on those little incidental items,” said Campbell. “We could basically do a lot of that for nothing, it’s just labor.”
Alternatively, if not spent by this October, city officials could have to return the money to LHTAC.
“If we go to World War III, prices would drop a lot,” Councilor Kari Peterson joked.
Peterson moved to reject the bids and have the project’s plans revised, seconded by Councilor Tom Limbaugh. The motion carried with a voice vote of 3-0.
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