Bids for Demolition and Replacement of Fitch's Bridge Come In Much Lower Than Expected
With bids for both demolition only and demolition and replacement of Fitch's Bridge coming in significantly lower than expected, Town Manager Mark Haddad advised Selectmen of some potential options for funding the bridge effort, without tacking it onto the anticipated $7M bond for the construction and equipping of the proposed Center Fire Station.
"I was shocked at the bids. They all came in under what we expected. There were 12 bidders for this project while we received only 11 bids for the fire station. For demolition only, the lowest bid was $139K. The lowest bid for demolition and replacement was $331K from the same company that worked on the Littleton bridge," he said.
Bidders were also asked to propose a price on an "add alternate" which was essentially to add portals and a designer entryway made up of portions of the old bridge to the new span. Haddad said costs were around $45K and this is no longer on the table for consideration.
He advised that Selectmen need to make a decision on whether they would support just demolishing the late 1800s-era bridge or support the overall project including demolition and replacement. They decided and voted 4 to 0 to support both demolition and replacement of the structure.
Haddad suggested four scenarios: One, "The town could borrow the entire amount $375K plus a 10 percent contingency of plus $22K for engineering for a total of $438K and drop the 'add alternate'. If we couple the Fire Station with the bridge the cost will be $526K and we will need $26K more in the operating budget. We may be able to use Community Preservation Committee (CPC) funding, but under this scenario the bridge may be required to be built to Department of Transportation standards. We are going to the CPC to see if they are willing to do an out of sequence application."
Secondly, he suggested taking a portion of the cost from the Stabilization Fund and the balance from CPC. Selectman Jack Petropoulos asked about what this decision might do to a proposal from the Parks Department for funds for new playing fields. Haddad responded that he didn't think that Parks was very far along in their proposal.
Thirdly, he suggested that CPC could fund the overall project; and lastly that the board could propose a transfer $150K from the Excess and Deficiency Fund to pay for the demolition only.
Selectman Peter Cunningham pointed out that the Finance Committee was unanimous in their support for demolition of the bridge, but did not support its replacement. Colleague Petropoulos asked what happens if there is a $276K bond and $176K from Stabilization. Haddad replied that if the fire station fails, that would leave the town with a $276K bond, which would be difficult to place.