Contractor tells village that additional backfill will add $160,000 to cost of Fredonia Ave. project
Village of Fredonia officials learned last week that the installation of a new water main along Fredonia Avenue has encountered yet another potentially costly complication.
Public Works Director Roger Strohm said the contractor, PTS Contractors of Green Bay, informed him that it could cost as much at $161,000 more than was bid to install the water line because of inferior soils.
The report was given to village trustees who were meeting as a committee of the whole to discuss the 2015 budget.
Strohm said the contractor assumed the same soil that will be removed for the water main trench could be reused, but the village’s specifications call for backfilling using granular material.
At least a portion of the Fredonia Avenue road right-of-way is clay. The granular material requirement would mean that sand or gravel would need to be brought in.
“He said if we are going to require granular backfill at the bid rate, he can’t do the job,” Strohm said.
“You are talking about a $160,000 change order and the work hasn’t even started.”
The bid for the water main project is $830,000, which was $300,000 above estimates.
If the cost of hauling in granular soil is considered, PTS would no longer be the lowest bidder, Strohm said.
He said the change order represented a worst-case scenario for the contractor. A lesser cost is possible, because the eastern 1,000 feet of the project area is reportedly rich in suitable sand deposits.
The back-fill question once again puts the timing of the water main project in doubt.
Officials at one time hoped to install the water line in conjunction with next year’s reconstruction of Fredonia Avenue.
The timing of the project was moved up to fall, so that settling could occur around the line before the road is repaved.
However, the contractor said a temporary asphalt patch of the water main trench would be needed until the reconstruction begins in spring.
If that temporary paving uses five inches of asphalt, the contractor said it would cost as much as an additional $150,000. That patching job would be needed whether the water line is installed in fall or spring, the contractor said.
Village officials are hopeful two inches of asphalt can be used for the temporary paving work, which would reduce the cost by about $70,000.
Strohm told trustees the uncertainty about the backfill could jeopardize the fall schedule of the work. The contract calls for the work to be substantially completed by Nov. 15.
Several trustees questioned whether the cost of bringing in additional fill for the trench should be the village’s concern once a contract is signed.
Strohm said there was enough ambiguity in the wording of the contract that the contractor could make a case for passing the cost on to the village. He suggested negotiating a split of the cost.
Village President Chuck Lapicola said there should be value in having a contract.
“If we have to start negotiating now, why even have a contract?” Lapicola asked.
“I think they have a lot of wiggle room in their bid.”
Strohm said if the village refuses to budge on the backfilling issue, it could make monitoring the project considerably more complicated.
“If we push this, my job is going to be 10 times more challenging because the contractor will be looking to cut corners where ever he can to make up for starting $160,000 in the hole.”
Strohm told officials he hoped a compromise on the cost could be reached during a pre-construction conference this week.
He promised to report back to the board at Thursday’s meeting.