The Mobile City Council voted unanimously to pay for a $600,000 change order to help ensure work continues on Florida Street drainage, which has led to several road closures since the project began last October.
The $602,000 increase in price to what the city has already committed to contractor Frank Turner construction, includes unforeseen costs related to the replacement of Mobile Area Water and Sewer System equipment underneath the surface of the street, City Engineer Nick Amberger. It also includes $70,000 to $100,000 for temporary pavement and gravel placed on the roadway to help increase accessibility to businesses impacted by the work.
“It was put down to try to accommodate ingress and egress to local businesses,” Amberger said.
While he remained skeptical of the project’s cost, Councilman Fred Richardson asked fellow councilors to bypass the rules and vote to approve the measure, which impacts the district he represents.
“I received a call from Mr. Turner where he said until he got paid he wouldn’t do anything,” Richardson said.
Amberger corrected Richardson and confirmed that the contractor was still working. However, Amberger did recommend the council pass the contract at Tuesday’s meeting as away to motivate the crews.
“This is a big project and he has big payroll and a lot of subcontractors,” Amberger said. “The money is very important to him.”
Although he supports this contract, Richardson complained about the overall cost of the project and the impact it has had on neighborhoods and businesses.
“It’s one block,” he said. “For me, this ought to be paying for the whole thing.”
The project is actually three blocks, Amberger said.
This will be the last time Richardson supports a project of this magnitude, he said.
“This is it,” Richardson said. “I don’t know if it’s worth it. It’s very expensive. I’d be hard pressed to support another project inside a neighborhood that inconveniences neighbors and costs that much.”
Councilman John Williams took issue with the timing of the request, especially after Amberger stated the change order has been in the works for a month. Williams suggested city staffers inform the council earlier of situations similar to this one.
Amberger told Williams he discussed it with Richardson last week. Williams asked if Amberger knew last Tuesday about the cost of the change order. Amberger said he did and Williams responded by telling the engineer that last Tuesday would’ve been a good time to inform other councilors.
In other business, councilors delayed a vote, per council rules, to enter into a $52,000 contract with Osprey Initiative for floating litter removal. Despite the description,Osprey will be using waders and kayaks to remove litter from Three Mile Creek, Assistant City Engineer Rosemary Ginn confirmed.
Councilors also discussed the hiring of more staff in the city engineering department to help execute on a backlog of projects related to the city’s capital improvement plan. The job of project manager has been open for four weeks through the Mobile County Personnel Board, Amberger said. The city will soon request the list of eligible candidates.
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