The Village of Pleasantville is aiming to go out to bid this fall for contractors for the Manville Road streetscape and civic space project.
At the Village Board’s May 10 work session, Rich Williams of Insite Engineering, the firm the village hired to oversee the project, outlined the next steps to be taken that are required by the state Department of Transportation (DOT). The DOT approved state funding of about $1.6 million for the project in 2017.
“We submitted plans, specs and estimates to the DOT,” Williams said. “Their next step is to authorize us to go to bid.”
Once the village receives authorization, it has six months to go to bid, under guidelines set by the agency. It hopes to solicit bids as early as October or November.
If a bid is accepted, there is then a one-year deadline to start using the funds. If officials reject all of the bids that are received, the village must still start using the funds or risk losing the funding, but that doesn’t mean it has to begin expending money on construction, Williams said.
DOT allows the money to be spent for administration purposes, he explained. For example, quality assurance reviews could be conducted on one of the bid submissions, which would be considered a valid use to prevent forfeiture of the funds.
The project, originally conceived in 2007, calls for the removal of the Memorial Plaza slip lane leading to Manville Road, which is a state road. It would be replaced with a right-turn lane at the current Memorial Plaza-Manville Road intersection, along with a new traffic light, crosswalks, a civic space and pocket park.
To make up the difference between the $1.6 million in DOT funds and the total cost of the project, the Village Board approved a $2.6 million bond resolution allowing it to borrow up to that amount. The latest estimate for the project is between $3 million and $4 million.
Last October, the village extended the project’s timeline that would allow it to go out to bid this fall without jeopardizing the state money and start the project next spring. If the village rejects all the bids and wanted to limit the scope of the project, officials would have to reapply to the DOT to see what elements could be eliminated to reduce the cost.
“This project is already at the bare minimum,” Williams said. “I don’t know if we can eliminate much more and still maintain the intent and scope of the funding.”
Construction prices have rapidly escalated during the pandemic as have construction materials.
“Rich and I have both been in the DOT’s ear about getting any type of additional funding,” said Village Administrator Eric Morrissey. “If the state receives some of the (federal) infrastructure funds, maybe that can support the project. Right now, it’s not certain and there are too many variables.”
Removal of the slip lane allows the creation of a civic space and pocket park in its place. Village Trustee Nicole Asquith asked that if the bids are rejected and the village had to return to the DOT, is removal of the slip lane required to create the civic space.
Williams responded that the slip lane’s removal is critical to the entire project.
“The series of improvements have been detailed and it all has to come together,” he said. “There’s not a lot of flexibility in the initial project proposal to allow it to be parceled out.”
There was some discussion about shifting the parking at Memorial Plaza to create a temporary civic space.
“That can be talked about when we get these bids back,” said Mayor Peter Scherer. “Then we would see how we could proceed.”
Should the village accept a bid, the goal is to have the contractor ready to begin work next spring so there is a chance it could be completed by the end of 2022.
“This project will take one construction season, if the contractor is motivated and wants to attack this project efficiently,” Williams said. “But once you start this project you are at the mercy of the contractor.”
When work begins, it would start with the traffic signal and installing the right turn lane at the Manville Road-Memorial Plaza intersection.
“It could take three or four months before the signal is ordered,” Williams said. “A new turn lane has to be created before the slip lane is eliminated. That’s critical.”