GARNER — A familiar company blew away two other bidders as well as the Town of Garner’s engineering estimate for the contract to rebuild the interchange between I-40, U.S. 70 and White Oak Road.
Fred Smith Company bid $4,482,702.02 for theroad project, a prerequisite to tens of million dollars in planned development in an expansion of White Oak Crossing.
That was more than half a million less than the most recent engineer’s estimate, which would save the town about $250,000. Federal funding will cover half the cost of the project. The bid from Fred Smith Company was about $790,000 less than the next lowest of the three bids.
The bids have been verified by the town, which will oversee the project. But they must also be verified by the Department of Transportation, which is chipping in a small share of the project, and other paperwork remains. But town engineer Frank Powell doesn’t foresee any roadblocks for Fred Smith Company.
“I would be very surprised if DOT had a problem with it,” Powell said. “I think they’re a very reputable company.”
Smith, a Raleigh-based company, built the Timber Drive extension (connecting N.C. 50 to White Oak Road) and recently resurfaced Timber Drive. While NCDOT administered those projects, the town also worked in consultation.
Looking closer at the bids’ breakdown, Powell said asphalt came in cheaper than expected for Smith – and the other bidders as well. In addition Smith estimated lower earthwork – or grading – costs.
The project will widen U.S. 70 from I-40 to Morris Drive and rebuild the I-40 East off-ramp. Three turn lanes on U.S. 70 East will have a protected left turn, south onto White Oak Road. Cars exiting southbound I-40 (East) onto U.S. 70 will have a separate protected turn to get to those turn lanes.
Currently, cars merging onto U.S. 70 from I-40 south have about 1,000 feet to slide across an often-busy U.S. 70 to reach left-turn lanes heading toward the shopping center.
The town must formally adopt a resolution to accept the bid at Monday’s council meeting, and then NCDOT must approve, which could take days or weeks.
From there more paperwork – both sides signing contracts, the company getting capital in place, the town approving execution of the contract – will add some time to the process. The company will plan the project and pass along a notice that it plans to proceed to the town.
Town leaders hope the project, estimated to take about one year, can be completed before the end of paving season in mid-December, 2014. Various pending development – including a Cabela’s, Drury Inn and other planned restaurants and retail – won’t want to open to construction, according to the area’s developer, Richard Barta.
The second lowest bid came from Triangle Grading and Paving, which bid $5,064,146 for the project. Triangle constructed the roundabout at Vandora Springs and Buffaloe roads. That six-month project finished more than a month late, with the company blaming bad timing with bad weather.
TLT Construction bid over $6 million.
Jahner: 919-829-4822; Twitter: @garnercleveland