Downtown Steamboat construction progress questioned |

Downtown Steamboat construction progress questioned

Sen. Al White to join discussion about project's pace at council meeting Tuesday

Mike Lawrence

Scott Contracting workers pour concrete Tuesday at Seventh Street and Lincoln Avenue.

— Scott Contracting bid about $900,000 less than the Colora­do Department of Transporta­tion's estimate for the downtown repaving project, which is scheduled to close the Third Street intersection today while opening intersections at Seventh and 11th streets.

Scott's bid of about $5.65 million was about $400,000 less than the next lowest bid, a proposal of about $6.1 million by New Design Construction Co., of Denver. Scott's bid to the Colorado Department of Trans­portation for the downtown Steamboat Springs repaving and improvement project along U.S. Highway 40 has come into question lately as the project has faced delays and fallen behind schedule this spring. Many of those delays have been attributed to the season's wet weather, but concerns also have arisen about staffing, additional funding requests and unexpected costs.

Dave Eller, regional program engineer for CDOT, said Tues­day that Scott's bid did not raise any red flags with CDOT, which is required to accept the lowest bid from a qualified contractor for publicly funded projects.

"We have a cost-estimating unit in Denver that evaluates bidding and contracts," Eller said. "We're bound by federal and state statute (to be) on a low-bid system."

Eller said it's not uncommon to see a low bid that's "7 or 8 percent lower than the next bidder," referring to the percentage of Scott's and New Design's bids compared with CDOT's project estimate, which was about $6.57 million.

"I don't recall that there was ever a concern raised by our cost-estimating unit," Eller said about Scott's bid.

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Public concerns about the project, however, drove Steam­boat Springs City Council Presi­dent Cari Hermacinski to ask state Sen. Al White, R-Hayden, to attend Tuesday's City Coun­cil meeting at Centennial Hall to help facilitate a discussion about the project's pace and impacts on downtown businesses.

Hermacinski said that in conversations with downtown business owners, she has heard a great deal of frustration about a project many think is not playing out as advertised. Instead of the sectioned, few-blocks-at-a-time closures that business owners expected, intersections have been closed along nearly all of Lincoln Avenue for much of the past several weeks.

"What this local community has been told about this project for the past two years, when it's in planning, hasn't been what's happening in execution," Hermacinski said.

CDOT and Scott officials met with City Council last week, but Hermacinski said she was not satisfied with the discussion.

"I think we do need a political representative that they are accountable to, to be there and hear what those concerns are and hear the answers to those questions," she said.

White said he will attend Tuesday's meeting. Eller said a CDOT representative, likely he or engineer Dave Sch­nei­der, also will attend.

Eller said additional funding for the repaving project could reach half a million dollars.

"We had about $500,000 set aside for what we call minor contract revisions or change orders … and I expect that we're going to use that money," Eller said. "It's not uncommon to have some money in a project of that magnitude to account for those kind of things."

Also at Tuesday's meeting, city Public Works Director Philo Shelton will present an overtime proposal to City Council. Shelton said the city would pay Scott for three days worth of overtime, in exchange for no work occurring Sept. 1 to 3, the three days leading up to Labor Day weekend.

"We'd pay those three days in overtime right now, and in exchange for doing that, (Scott) would not work those three days," Shelton said. "My recommendation is just not to start before Labor Day, because it's a big event weekend for the city."

Neither Shelton nor Scott Contracting project information manager Jody Patten had a cost estimate for the overtime proposal Tuesday.

Crosstown traffic

Patten said downtown drivers will see a change in traffic patterns today.

"We're closing Third (today), we are reopening Seventh, and we are reopening 11th, too," Patten said.

Patten said completing work at Third Street will be Scott's top priority in coming days, but paving at the intersection won't occur until Tuesday night, at the earliest, because of significant excavation work.

Eller said CDOT will not sacrifice quality for speed on a project that has a 30-year design life.

"I think right now our No. 1 concern is that with all the things that have been stacked against us … we want to assure quality," he said. "We're confident to this point that we are getting good, quality work."

Fox Construction's Tom Fox, who has worked in the industry for 30 years in the Yampa Valley, agreed with that assessment.

"Weather has really been bad. It's hurt the construction industry," Fox said. "It seems like they're doing their best. … It appears that the quality of their work, especially the concrete work, really looks good."

Work will resume in the fall after stopping June 30. Scott Contracting will face daily fines if work is not complete by Nov. 12.

Justin Kuhn, CDOT project engineer, told City Council last week that crews are "fairly confident" of completing the project in the fall.

Patten said Tuesday that the recent good weather has the project moving along well.

"No reason to think we won't finish Nov. 12 — none at all," Patten said.

Bid numbers

Information about repaving project bids is on the CDOT website, From the “Business with CDOT” pulldown menu, select “Project Bidding and Related,” then “Recent Project Bid Tabulations.” Scroll to the bottom of the ensuing page and, in “Bid Tabulation Archives,” select “2009.” At the Aug. 13 bid by Scott Contracting for U.S. 40 work, click “Tabulation of Bids.”

Contractor — Total bid — Percent of low bid — Percent of estimate

(all dollar figures in millions, rounded to nearest $10,000)

CDOT estimate — $6.57 — 116 — 100

Scott Contracting — $5.65 — 100 — 86

New Design Construction Co. — $6.09 — 108 — 93

Lawson Construction Co. — $6.33 — 112 — 96

Duckels Construction Inc. — $6.89 — 122 — 105

Concrete Works of Colorado Inc. — $6.96 — 123 — 106

Connell Resources Inc. — $7.34 — 130 — 112

Source: Colorado Department of Transportation

Paving information

For daily updates on the U.S. Highway 40 construction project, call 970-819-7008. To sign up for e-mail updates on the project, visit and click on the “Sign up for E-mail and Wireless Alerts” link in the upper right corner. Enter an e-mail address, select the appropriate updates and click “Submit.” For more information, visit the project website at

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