Roundabout is out until next year | SierraSun.com

Roundabout is out until next year

David Bunker
Vehicles wait to turn at the intersection of Donner Pass Road and Highway 89 south where a roundabout is planned for construction. The work, which was to start this year, is being pushed back to 2005.
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Two roundabouts planned for the intersection of state Route 89 south and Interstate 80 will be delayed until next year after the lowest bid on the project came in more than $1 million over original estimates for the work. The Truckee Town Council asked the construction company, which bid $3.5 million, to extend its offer to allow the town time to pursue additional funding and work on cutting out elements of the project that could reduce the cost. But the delay means that construction, which was scheduled to begin this month, will be held off until next year.The higher bids were a result of rising construction materials prices and modifications to the project during state approval, said Town Engineer Dan Wilkins. Concrete, steel and oil are the most inflated of the construction materials, and they continue to rise, said Town Councilman Ted Owens, making a lower bid improbable.

“I think that it is a pipe dream to believe that is we wait until mid-winter or spring to bid this that we will beat $3.5 million,” said Owens. The project has hit additional snags because it will be a rare dual-lane roundabout, and Caltrans is ensuring that additional signs prevent accidents between motorists who may be unfamiliar with the configuration.”It’s the first double-lane roundabout that any of us at Caltrans are doing,” said Tom Brannon, Caltrans project manager for Nevada County.

The sign requirements, which are an expensive part of the project, were “hotly debated between Caltrans and the town,” said Brannon, with Caltrans pushing for additional signs at the unique intersections.The town had budgeted $2.9 million for the project after an initial estimate of $2.4 in construction costs for the project. But as construction material prices rose and additional requirements from Caltrans piled up, the town’s estimate rose to $3.2 million days before the bids came in.Truckee officials said that it was unlikely that re-bidding the project would result in a lower offer, and decided to go with Burdick Excavating’s $3.5 million offer. Burdick Excavating is the same company that completed the “westerly” railroad undercrossing at West River Street and has agreed to extend their bid to the end of the year.

The town is hoping that they can delay construction of the right turn lanes that would access the interstate before entering the roundabouts, which could lower the construction costs considerably. But those lanes would have to be added later, according to Caltrans.”Operationally the bypass ramp will be needed in the future,” said Brannon. Truckee is also hoping that $400,000 in state bicycle transportation funds and $350,000 in Nevada County transportation money will be available before the project begins. Caltrans is already contributing $750,000 to the roundabouts and is unlikely to pitch in more since that would change the classification of the funds, said Brannon.”If you go over [$750,000], you go through a different process to program the dollars,” said Brannon.