Harlem city officials will have to wait a little longer to break ground on the first phase of a project to improve the look of the city's downtown.
A recent bid for the project was higher than expected and requires city officials to do a little more work to make the project happen.
City officials opened the second round of contractor bids June 1 for the first phase of the streetscape project funded by a Transportation Enhancement grant that the Georgia Department of Transportation awarded to the city in 2003.
The city did not receive any bids the first time they were solicited in April, so city officials advertised for project bidders for another 30 days. On the second try, the city received only one bid.
"We got a bid, but it was high ... more than double what we were expecting," Mayor Scott Dean said of the nearly $1.4 million bid from a construction company in Peachtree City, Ga.
The downtown improvements to Louisville Road will go from Forrest Street to Church Street and will include adding an overlay material to preserve sidewalks and adding trash cans, benches, trees and shrubs.
Curbside parking was removed, widening the road enough to accommodate tractor-trailers, and was replaced with a paved lot across from the Harlem Department of Public Safety.
Harlem was approved for the $300,000 Transportation Grant in early 2003, so all of the bid expectations were more than three years old, Dean said of why the one bid received was much higher than the $560,000 expected cost.
"And since Katrina, (the cost of) everything has gone through the roof," Dean said.
For the project, city officials have already committed $560,000, which is a combination of several grants and other funding sources including an April 2005 $55,000 USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant, added DOT money for the removed parking spaces and $75,000 of city money, Dean said.
The city was awarded a second grant from the state DOT totaling $700,000 in January to fund the second phase of the downtown streetscape project that will make Milledgeville Road match Louisville.
City Manager Jean Dove said city officials will try to have funds from the second phase transferred to fund the first phase and simply reapply for the second phase.
"Even with that money, it is still going to be close because of the cost," Dean said.
Dove said city officials will thoroughly inspect the company's bid and research the company and other funding options. There is no timeline as to when the project might get underway, Dove said.
"The next city council meeting, they will either reject or award the bid," Dove said.
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