Bid on pricey stoplight comes down |

Bid on pricey stoplight comes down

Scott Condon
Aspen, CO Colorado

BASALT ” A political vise grip squeezing the Basalt Town Council over a midvalley stoplight has loosened a little bit.

A Denver contractor pared nearly $49,500 off a bid to install a stoplight at the intersection of Highway 82 and East Valley Road/Original Road. That’s a 9 percent reduction off a price that gave the Town Council “sticker shock” two weeks ago.

The original bid by KECI Colorado Inc. was $553,337. The council majority felt that was too high and directed town engineer Larry Thompson to try to negotiate a lower price. Thompson informed the council in a memo that the bid was reduced by KECI to $503,916.

The town staff is advising the council to accept the reduced bid rather than seeking new bids for the traffic signal. New bids would push the project into 2008 and there’s no guarantee that new bids would be any lower, since construction costs are rising so rapidly in the Roaring Fork Valley.

“It is possible that more bidders could be recruited and that a better bid could be received if we rebid the project at a later date,” Thompson wrote. “However, I am not aware of any projects recently where project costs have gone down by waiting.”

Sticking with the new bid will require the council to dip into the town’s financial reserves. The town budgeted $175,000 for the traffic signal. Another $68,700 is available from fees collected from developers of projects in that area. That means another $280,000 is needed from town reserves.

From a financial perspective, the ordeal with the stoplight exemplifies the adage: Let no good deed go unpunished.

The Town Council promised residents who use the intersection for access to Highway 82 in January 2006 that it would help get the stoplight installed. The intersection has been the site of numerous accidents, including two fatal wrecks.

The town decided to fund the light itself after consultation with the Colorado Department of Transportation. A CDOT study confirmed that a signal was needed, but the agency told town officials it was uncertain when the funds would be available to install it. CDOT officials said the light would be added to a list of traffic signals awaiting funding in the region that includes Aspen. Town officials agreed to fund the light if the transportation department prepared the design.

The project went to bid earlier this summer and KECI was the only contractor interested. The council majority balked at the price at a meeting two weeks ago, placing the project in limbo.

Residents along Original Road and across the highway at Willits objected to the council’s cold feet. Several of them urged the council to accept the original bid at an Aug. 14 meeting. Since the council balked at moving ahead, Town Hall has received 12 letters protesting the delay.

The issues goes before the council again Tuesday. The revised bid is scheduled to be discussed at 6:30 p.m.

Town Manager Bill Efting said the staff is seeking additional sources to help fund the light. “We’re going to ask Eagle County for some money,” he said.