By Kellen Olshefski


The City of Elkhorn Municipal Services and Utilities Committee was informed Nov. 13 that due to an oversight with the East Market Street expansion project, the project could now see increased costs of $295,000 in a worst-case scenario.

City Administrator Sam Tapson said the contractor, Rams Contracting LTD., recently expressed concerns about the quantities used to estimate construction, noting there could be a significant increase in cost. But even with that increase, the total cost would still fall below what the original estimated total.

City Engineer Greg Calhoun said Rams had dug test pits on-site and noticed what was described as poor material, possibly worse than what Kapur and Associate’s original soil borings had indicated at the site.

“It’s just that kind of an estimation,” Calhoun said. “We’re not really going to know the quality of the soils for the entire mile-long road until we get out there and start digging.”

According to Calhoun, Rams estimated it would need to excavate up to as much as an additional foot of the poor material beyond what was originally estimated and what topsoil can be reused throughout the project. He said that extra foot would typically come out of the quantity called “Excavation Below Subgrade,” which was likely incorrectly estimated for this project, based on a percentage of the site’s total excavation.

“Given what we know about the soils and everything else about the site, it should have been more,” Calhoun said. “But, as Sam alluded to, if the estimate had been higher, this would have been paid for regardless.

“The bottom line is this road needs to be built correctly. If we get out there and encounter bad soils, we’re taking them out because it’s the best likelihood that this road’s not going to fail in the future. If that means taking out up to a foot of extra stuff across the whole site, which is what Rams estimated, that’s what’s going to have to happen,” he added.

Calhoun said the $295,000 is truly a worst-case scenario of what they may need to do once construction at the site begins and they can better determine how much poor material is there.

“It’s an estimate, it’s a worst-case estimate,” he said. “The likelihood that we’ll below this is probably high, the $295,000, but the likelihood that soils that need to be excavated go beyond what was in the bid amount, myself, the construction inspector and Rams, (we) all agree that is also pretty high.”

Calhoun said this was brought to the committee to be informative about costs being above the bid amount, though still below the original estimate. The original estimate for everything – not including engineering costs – according to Calhoun, was $2.4 to $2.5 million, with bids for the project coming in at about $2.05 million.

Tapson asked Calhoun if this is something that could have been handled by the contractor prior to the bid process. Calhoun said that’s a question they too had for the contractor.

“Typically we would maybe not rely on the contractor to tell us these things, but we would hope that if something catches their eye they would maybe let us know,” he said.

Alderman Bruce Lechner noted that he appreciated the committee seeing it at this point, than rather down the road when the city is deep into the project. Tapson said that’s essentially what happened with the Sunset Park swimming facility project, which came as a surprise to councilmembers at the time.

No action was required on the East Market Street update at the meeting as the topic was merely informational in nature.


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