By Dave Fidlin


Whitewater municipal officials have revisited a familiar topic — reconstructing a residential corridor near the city’s Armory building — as 2016 gets underway.

The Common Council on Jan. 19 approved a plan to address infrastructure improvements and upgrades along George Street. The seemingly unassuming residential corridor garnered extensive attention last year as council members debated and discussed the scope of the work during several months last year.

For a number of reasons — including impacted residents’ concerns about the scope of the work and the overall cost of the project — the council in June decided to remove the project from the city’s 2015 capital improvement list and hold it over to this year.

The George Street discussion resumed last week as Assistant City Manager Chris McDonell came before the council with a recommendation for a contract and a proposed timeline for the work.

Following McDonell’s recommendation, the council will contract with Willkomm Excavating and Grading at a cost of $1.17 million. The Union Grove-based company was the lowest of seven bidders.

The city received a range of responses in its call for bids. Prospective contractors included one in suburban Milwaukee and a handful in south central and southwestern portion of the state. The highest bid came in at $1.56 million.

Willkomm will be tasked with repaving all of George Street and replacing infrastructure, including water, sanitary sewer and storm water mains. Also in the mix of work is erosion control efforts, improvements to a nearby bridge and rock excavating.

Although it came in as the lowest bidder, McDonell said he viewed other attributions within Willkomm through the company’s experts.

“Willkomm has extensive experience in this type of project,” McDonell said.

McDonell said he anticipates the project beginning in mid-April and wrapping by late August. He also said the city will likely hold a public information meeting in advance of construction equipment dotting the area.

The extent of the George Street reconstruction project is pared down from initial projections, which included curb-and-gutter, sidewalks and other features that are found throughout the city’s municipal boundaries.

The quoted price for the work, even with some of the initial components removed, came in at $1.59 million a year ago. City officials had only earmarked $1.36 million in the 2015 capital improvement budget, which led to the ultimate delay in the work.

Willkomm’s bid came in $240,000 less than the lowest bidder in last year’s round of quotes — a point McDonell emphasized during the most recent discussion.

In last year’s budget deliberations, the council earmarked $1.36 million toward the George Street work. The city’s lowest bidder, Burlington-based Reesman’s Excavating and Grading, provided a $1.59 million quote.

Last year’s low bidder, Burlington-based Reesman’s Excavating and Grading, provided a lower quote this year. It was $1.45 million.

McDonell said several of last year’s maneuvers — including obtaining the DNR permit for portions of the work — were not a waste of resources. The permit has a three-year life span, meaning it can be applied this year.


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