Waiting on a Prior Lake street art project instead of including it in the city’s summer highway construction will save hundreds of thousands of dollars, city officials said this week.
The city plans to ask for bids for the specialty contract in late 2019 or early 2020 as the highways 13 and 21 construction project comes to a close, City Engineer Andy Brotzler said. The street monuments are eseentially three lighted boat-mast structures.
“We’ve budgeted $250,000,” Brotzler said, roughly $300,000 less than when it was included in the overall $13.4 million street project.
The total cost of the project came in about $3 million above a 2018 projection, bumping Prior Lake’s share from $2.6 million to $3.8 million; Scott County and the state are also contributing. The City Council recently voted to remove the monument line item was a way to make up for the higher price tag.
“I think it’s (smart) to wait on the monuments,” said Councilwoman Annette Thomspon. “But I would like some kind of guarantee or commitment that we get those installed within a short period of time, whether that’s six months or a year.”
Brotzler said it’s difficult to determine the precise reason for the monuments’ initial price of $530,000, but the overarching project contractor’s relationship to subcontractors can affect the price.
“Our opinion is by pulling it out and bidding separately, we’ll have a chance to solicit from multiple specialty contractors,” he said.
Community Development Director Casey McCabe said a design committee partnered with consulting group Bolton & Menk to create the monuments’ design and received public input.
“Whether the design changes later depends on the bid received,” he said. “The idea would be keeping it the same.”
In a previous council meeting, Councilor Kevin Burkart said the roadwork bid’s timing wasn’t ideal.
“The first thing to go is the window dressing,” he said, referring to the monuments. “Those citizen groups who wanted to do these monuments, that was good input. But I think if you’d told them that the price tag was $350,000 or $500,000, I think very few would say that’s a go.”
In addition to eliminating the street art from the overall project, Prior Lake is asking the Minnesota Department of Transportation to increase its cost share, City Manager Michael Plante said.
The city may also dip into its state-aid funds to make up for the shortfall, according to Brotzler. He also said the city’s construction and utility funds have leftover money that could be used. Doing so would allow the project to move forward without a tax increase.