Surprises, complications help hike WAAP budget again - now $35.5MMarch 15, 2018
The cost to reconstruct a stretch of Colorado Avenue once known as No Man's Land just went up $4.6 million.
Under the working title of Westside Avenue Action Plan (WAAP), the project was priced at $30.9 million when work started in December 2016.
The new total is $35.5 million. The project, extending roughly 1˝ miles west of 31st Street, is scheduled for “substantial completion” by the end of this year, according to project officials.
The cost reassessment was an agenda item March 14 at the monthly meeting of the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (RTA) board of directors. Representing WAAP was Dennis Barron, project manager for El Paso County, which is overseeing the multi-government effort.
Barron summarized the main reasons for the increase as follows:
- Surprises underground when the contractor has dug for stormwater and utility lines.
- Design changes that were identified as the work moved forward (including a change in the Adams Crossing bridge alignment and the need for a water quality pond).
- Complications with property purchase/easement acquisitions (about 100 in all are needed).
- Having to demolish more buildings than anticipated (recently increased to five in all).
- The assignment now of dollar amounts to certain project aspects (such as artistic elements on retaining walls) that “we knew we wanted to do but didn't have costed.”
Asked by an RTA board member about the possibility of future cost increases, Barron replied, “I can't guarantee that we won't ask for more. We have one year left on the project. But this is what we need now.”
Adding to the county explanation were 24 pages of documentation in the RTA meeting packet, including the assertion that the county has made no secret about WAAP's money concerns.
The county asked the board, which consists of elected officials from RTA- participating local governments, to transfer $3.9 million to WAAP from another project (the Mesa Ridge Parkway project, off Powers Boulevard) that's not yet ready for construction. Those funds will defray most of the $4.6 million WAAP cost increase.
Both WAAP and Mesa Ridge are termed RTA “capital improvement projects.” That's how they were identified on the list approved by voters in 2012, which extended the .55 percent portion of the RTA's 1 percent sales tax to 2024.
According to the county's documentation, the other additional funds for WAAP will come from the RTA's non-capital fund for the Midland Trail ($450,000), Colorado Springs Stormwater ($400,000), the Manitou Springs Urban Renewal Authority ($27,000), Colorado Springs Utilities ($15,000) and a Lamar billboard lease payment at the demolished Sunflower Motel ($5,000). That brings the funds-available side of the budget to nearly $35.8 million - providing some contingency for the new, above-stated expenditure forecast of $35.5 million.
The governments partnering with the county on WAAP are Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs.
The county's Mesa Ridge transfer will “provide the funds on an interim basis to cover the proportionate allocation share for [Colorado Springs - $2.7 million]
Her memo further states the budget-increase recipients/uses:
The RTA board unanimously approved the $3.9 million fund transfer, as well as contract changes related to it. Moving for approval was County Commissioner Stan VanderWerf, whose district includes the WAAP area.
He related an example of the kinds of surprises encountered during the avenue reconstruction project. The contractor discovered “hundreds of tires” along a segment of Fountain Creek. They had evidently been put there years ago to bolster its banks. The tires have since been removed and the banks refortified to modern specifications.
“The good news is, we're getting through this project,” VanderWerf summarized.
The only board criticism of the WAAP budget hike was voiced by another county commissioner, Longinos Gonzales, who tempered his yes vote on the fund transfer by remarking that “we've seen a lot of increases in that project. It's a concern of mine.”
When the avenue improvements were approved by voters as an RTA capital project in 2012, the amount on the ballot was just under $12.2 million. The WAAP budget rose to the recent number ($30.9 million) as a result of findings in the pre-project design effort, starting in 2012.
Westside Pioneer article