By Bill Robinson
Richmond’s plans to construct a new storm drain to prevent perennial flooding along downtown’s Water Street were dealt a huge blow Tuesday.
The lowest bid came in nearly $1.4 million more than the $4 million federal grant the city hoped would pay for the project.
The city commission was meeting in its off-week work session when planning department officials opened project bids.
City Manager Jimmy Howard said he was unsure how the commission would proceed, but the city does not have a spare $1.5 million or more to put into the project.
The low bidder, Smith Contractors of Lawrenceburg, estimated the cost of materials for the project at about $1.3 million. Howard said the city might be able to obtain materials for less, but even without added material costs, the nearly $5.4 million bid from Smith would present the city with some difficult choices.
The commission likely will wait on a recommendation from its consultant, Integrated Engineering of Lexington, before exploring its options, the city manager said.
Twice in 2012, Water Street was flooded by heavy downpours of rain. The water rose so high in August that a vehicle trying to cross Madison Avenue was stalled.
Only two other firms bid on the project, Free Construction submitted a bid of about $5.9 million, while The Allen Company, based in Winchester, bid almost $7.6 million. Howard said he did not know where Free Construction was located.
One explanation for the high bids could be the time constraints of the project, city officials said.
The project will include a deep trench across Main Street between CVS Pharmacy and Collins Street, as well as Water Street and Irvine Street. They city hopes to limit disruption of Main Street traffic to short duration.
The city had hoped to have been already started on the project and have it completed in November.
Bill Robinson can be reached at editor@
or at 624-6690.