Robert Street reconstruction is looking more expensive than predicted. Again.
Companies recently submitted bids for the second phase of the corridor overhaul. The lowest option is $1.3 million more than SRF, the city's engineering consultants, estimated.
It's a familiar problem for West St. Paul, which has faced numerous financial roadblocks during the controversial project. The upgrade is now estimated to cost $42 million to complete. That's $4 million more than the city has secured for the remake of the road.
This week, city officials argued over how to handle the latest hurdle.
When bids for the first phase of construction came in $7.8 million over estimates, the council rebid the project. This time, delays that come with rebidding would bring a new round of expenses, as the city would have to renew property easements — a costly process that the council was not keen on.
"The numbers are increasing, increasing, increasing," said Mayor Dave Meisinger, who has routinely critiqued spending on Robert Street. "Time is not on our side and money is not either."
Meisinger urged city officials to cut costs by reviewing what can be taken out of the project. One item that might be cut or postponed? Decorative monuments — still undefined — that would be built at the entrance to the corridor.
"The frosting on the cake we don't need right now," he said.
Other council members said they want the street to look good and the city should continue with the current plan.
"This is important. It's an investment, and we need to move forward," Jenny Halverson said, adding that she doesn't want to further inconvenience businesses on the street.
The council decided to look for spending cuts and come back to the discussion July 27.
Officials seem poised to approve a contract with LS Black Constructors. At $4.4 million, the firm was the low bidder for the second phase of construction, which includes landscaping and sidewalks.
And even though that's above SRF's estimate, it's in line with the city's initial budget estimate, City Manager Matt Fulton said.