Harlem city officials decided at Monday's city council meeting to put a downtown renovation project out to bid a third time, this time with some changes to ensure the project begins soon.
City officials rejected a more than $1.6 million bid from a Peachtree City company in June after a second round of contractor bids were solicited.
The project proposal was reworked, dividing up the first phase of a streetscape project funded by a Transportation Enhancement grant that the Georgia Department of Transportation awarded the city in 2003.
"We compartmentalized it so that we will be able to do something," Mayor Scott Dean said of the project that received no bids in April and received only one bid when the city solicited bids a second time. "If we get any bids at all, pray to goodness, we will be breaking ground shortly after the Oliver Hardy Festival. I cannot wait."
The bid from the Peachtree City company was rejected because it exceeded the projected cost and funding available for the project and because there were some mathematical errors in the bid, city engineer John McClellan, of G. Ben Turnipseed Engineers, said at the June meeting.
The downtown improvements project will stretch along Louisville Road from Forrest Street to Church Street and will include installing 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. A second downtown parking lot behind the public safety building still needs to be paved.
The city received the $300,000 DOT grant in 2003, so all of the bid expectations were three years old, explaining why the bid was so much higher than the nearly $600,000 expected cost of the project, Dean said in June.
But the project proposal has been rewritten, dividing it into sections.
The first includes improvements to North Louisville Street. The second section would improve the intersection of Louisville Street and Milledge Road. Improvements to South Louisville Street to Church Street will be included in the project's third sections, which will take improvements along South Louisville to the railroad tracks.
The sections could be completed separately as funding and bids allow, McClellan said.
The city has more than $1.27 million in funding waiting, including several DOT grants and a federal Department of Agriculture grant. The remaining $200,000 will be matched by city funds, Dean said, adding that bids will be solicited for four weeks in September.
Dean said he hopes a bid will be approved in early October and construction can begin after the city's Oliver Hardy Festival.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.