BARRE — Thanks to some creativity and a cooperative contractor, City Manager Steve Mackenzie has solved a six-figure problem that briefly threatened plans to construct a long-promised parking lot off Keith Avenue and a twice-delayed pedestrian way on Pearl Street.

Mackenzie said Tuesday he will execute the contract with DuBois Construction next week after trimming nearly $134,000 from the company’s low bid for the two projects, and work should begin as initially planned on June 24.

That was far from clear following a recent bid opening. All four bids far exceeded the engineer’s estimates for constructing the 104-space parking lot between Keith Avenue and Pearl Street, and completing the stalled transformation of Pearl Street from a narrow side street to a generous pedestrian plaza.

The best of the bids for the two projects — DuBois Contruction’s $879,000 offer — was nearly $100,000 more than Mackenzie anticipated, prompting him to request a meeting with the contractor to identify possible savings.

Mackenzie said the exercise worked, and rather than proceed with one of the projects and delay the other, both will proceed largely as planned.

According to Mackenzie, the single biggest savings — nearly $56,000 — involved the disposal of lightly contaminated “urban soils” that will be excavated as part of the parking lot project. Contractors, he said, were asked to include the cost of landfilling those soils unless the city could provide a state-approved alternative.

Though some hazardous soils associated with a long defunct dry cleaning operation will still need to be disposed of at a landfill, Mackenzie said the “urban soils” will now be trucked to a city-owned site near Hope Cemetery. That location, he said, has been reviewed and approved by the state Agency of Natural Resources, enabling the city to exercise the cost-saving bid option.

“That was big,” Mackenzie said, noting it trimmed DuBois’ bid to about $823,000 without much effort.

Working with the contractor and the city’s engineer, Mackenzie said the city was able to identify nearly $43,000 in additional savings associated with the parking lot portion of the jointly-bid project and an extra $35,000 tied to the pedestrian way. None of the changes will materially affect either project.

Mackenzie said the city will supply the sub-base that will be used in the construction of the parking lot for a savings of $19,600 and city crews will install parking meter poles, trimming an additional $8,750 from the budget. A decision to co-locate two electrical boxes will save $11,200 and a modified sidewalk plan will result in a reduction of $3,420.

Mackenzie said none of the adjustments proposed for the pedestrian way will be visible and a couple involve timing.

The city is saving $7,000 by extending the completion date from Aug. 16 to Aug. 23. The concrete slabs that will be used to construct the pedestrian way will be locked as required by the bid specifications, but the city will save more than $21,000 by using stainless steel pins instead of a more expensive alternative reflected in DuBois’ initial bid. The city will save an additional $6,000 by adjusting the thickness of the slab in some location.

According to Mackenzie, the city is now getting everything it wanted within the budget it had hoped. Due partly to the need to remediate onsite contamination, the parking lot is the more time-intensive of the two projects. That work is expected to take 10 weeks but should be substantially complete by Aug. 30.

Mackenzie had hoped the pedestrian way would be substantially complete by the time of the Barre Heritage Festival next month, but that may no longer be the case given the money-saving time extension.

david.delcore @timesargus.com

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