The bids for the city of Fenton’s North Road “roundabout” construction project were opened Friday, June 7 at MDOT (Michigan Department of Transportation), according to Public Works Director Dan Czarnecki.
The three lowest bidders are: L.A. Construction Corp. Inc. at $1,348,661.41; Champagne & Marx at $1,404,619.75; and Zito Construction at $1,420,728.20.
“The ‘Engineer’s Opinion of Probable Construction Costs’ (engineer’s estimate) for the project is $1,266,726,” Czarnecki said. “The difference in cost between the estimate and the low bid is $91,935.41, or about 7.25 percent.”
The engineers with OHM Advisors put together the estimate and will now be looking for ways to lower the project costs.
The City Council approved the project and estimated cost when they approved the MDOT contract May 28. The cost at that time was based on the engineers’ estimate.
“I will be keeping council informed of the bids and how we are going to keep the costs as close to the project estimate as possible,” Czarnecki said. “When the engineer reviews the estimate line by line they may be able to find places where small changes could save the city money.”
Czarnecki said it is unlikely that the city would go out for a new set of bids.
Czarnecki said he is not familiar with the work of the lowest bidder, but has worked with Champagne & Marks on several city projects, such as Streetscape, Poplar Street, Caroline Street extension, and a few other smaller projects.
“Their results were very good,” he said.
Once the financial end of the project is straightened out, construction is set to start on the northeast side of Torrey Road to Oak Park after the July 4 holiday and be completed before the start of school year. The roundabout portion of the project is expected to start after Labor Day and be completed by mid-November.
Czarnecki said Monday, “At this moment the start and finish times are good if all goes to plan. I think it should start on time. The weather and other factors out of our control will dictate the ending date.”
On Dec. 10, 2018, the Fenton City Council voted to adopt a resolution supporting the addition of a roundabout at the North and Torrey roads intersection. The city will be receiving Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) funds to improve North Road, from Oak Park to U.S. 23, which includes the North/Torrey intersection.
In the subsequent Dec. 12, 2018 Times article, “Fenton could see its first roundabout at North and Torrey roads” garnered more than 400 online comments by people wishing to weigh in on the matter.
Nearly all of those who commented agree that something needs to be done at that intersection, but they are divided over whether the best solution would be a traffic light, or the roundabout approved by the City Council. The majority leaned toward a traffic light. Many said roundabouts are too difficult to navigate and that a traffic signal would be sufficient to solve the problem.
Input from affected businesses
Matt Cormier of Matt & Terry’s Market voiced his concerns at the Dec. 3, 2018 meeting. His concern about safety at the current intersection also involves access for deliveries along with vehicles towing boats and trailers with the traffic signal option. Cormier stated a roundabout would be a plus.
Doug Smith, owner of Smitty’s Exit 80, said of the coming roundabout, “I absolutely love it.”
A traffic signal would require the closure of one of Matt & Terry’s entrances and one of Exit 80’s. “Those entrances are where all the delivery trucks go,” he said. “There’s no space to go straight through, It’s gonna be a lot better than it is now.”
Lisa Reading owns Beale Street BBQ with her father Phil Canup. “I’m sure it will be safer but I’m worried about having construction right in front of us,” she said last December. “I don’t mind them (roundabouts), but I’m not sure if that’s what we need. Just a simple light would work.”
Reading said her father hates roundabouts. “He would totally not want a roundabout right there,” she said.
Mayor Sue Osborn has said she is not in favor of the roundabout. “There’s a lot of traffic in that area and I’m not sure it’s worth all that money for something that may not work,” she said.
What is a roundabout?
A roundabout is a circular intersection design. While some people use the term “roundabouts” and “traffic circles” interchangeably, they are not the same thing. Roundabouts are typically smaller than traffic circles, and drivers must yield to vehicles already in the roundabout before entering. According to the Michigan Department of Transportation, roundabouts have been proven to safely decrease traffic delays and congestion. When selected and designed correctly, roundabouts can handle a high volume of traffic, including commercial trucks and large emergency vehicles.