2nd try for Hwy 24/21st project

       The Highway 24/21st Street safety project is back on.
       Suspended in December because of City Engineering staff cutbacks - just when a bid was about to be awarded to a contractor - the work using Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (RTA) dollars is now anticipated to start within 60 days.
       The second chance was made possible when the RTA board approved a proposal this month for engineering consultants from Nolte Associates to take over the project management function that city engineers previously provided for major RTA projects. The RTA's $1.54 million contract with Nolte will allow work to proceed on $17 million in major, privately contracted projects in the coming year, including the estimated $224,000 21st & 24 project.
       The 21st & 24 work is designed to make the intersection safer by changing the northbound 21st Street right turn to a right angle instead of a curving merge, offsetting the highway left turn lanes to improve visibility and adding a second northbound 21st Street lane through the intersection and up to the bridge over Fountain Creek.
       The cost is estimated at $224,000.
       “We had a low bidder, but because of the delays, they wouldn't hold their prices,” recalled engineer Colleen Dawson of Nolte. That occurred late last year, when Dawson was part of the city's project management team, with her workload including the 24 & 21st project. At Nolte, she is assigned to the same project, and again has the design package ready to advertise for bids, she said. Based on the amount of time involved in that process, she expects that a contractor could be selected in time to seek RTA board approval at its May meeting. Assuming approval then, “we could potentially break dirt by the end of May,” she said.
       The project became a priority for RTA's Roadway Safety and Traffic Operations budget after the number and type of accidents at 21st & 24 in 2006 placed it second on the city's “dangerous intersections” list. Rear-end accidents were a particular problem, according to police statistics.
       City Engineer Cam McNair had appealed to the RTA board in December, asking for an allocation of $1.2 million so that the city could continue to provide internal project management for major RTA projects in the city at a reasonably low cost. But a 5-4 board majority voted against the plan, concerned that such funding would be taken wrongly by voters who see their RTA tax dollars going almost entirely for transportation projects, not added administration costs.
       The Nolte contract for 2010 is $1.54 million.
       Project manager duties include budgets and schedules, permit approvals, rights of way and other tasks needed to ensure that contractors' work meets specifications.
       Governed by representatives of local governments, the RTA is funded with a 1-percent sales tax. Money is spent annually for new Roadway Safety projects because that category is technically an “A” list item, Dawson explained.

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