MANCHESTER — Manchester Select Board members voted unanimously to reject five bids for work on the Main Street sewer main extension, and passed a second motion to have a reworked project proposal ready for February.
Manchester interim Town Manager Leslie Perra cited significantly higher than expected costs in her recommendation that the board reject the bids.
The five bidding companies (and their bid amounts) were: SUR Construction West of Winchester, N.H. ($1,050,850); Casella Construction of Rutland ($1,078,140); Herrmann Construction of Manchester ($1,185,437); Belden Construction of Rutland ($1,329,204); and Zaluzny Excavating Corp. of Vernon ($1,421,102).
The Select Board released an advertisement for bids on Sept. 14 for “Phase 1” of the three-phase project, which includes “approximately 2,200 linear feet of 8-inch ... sewer main extension with appurtenances, and sidewalk and pavement restoration.”
Christina Haskins, the town engineer contracted through the Dufresne Group, previously estimated at the board’s last meeting on Sept. 6 that the cost would be about $650,000.
The board had considered the possibility of using $45,000 in connection fees, $100,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds and $500,000 in funding from the Sewer Capital Reserve Fund. The final $500,000 would have been repaid by the bond approved by voters last March.
“A million dollars is just too much,” Perra said.
Haskins cited three particular reasons for the bids coming in so much higher than expected, after going through the pricing with each company. First and foremost was the sewer main itself.
“The price [of the sewer main] was driven by depth,” Haskins said. “So that’s where the redesign comes in, and we can try and bring it up.”
Haskins and Board Chairman Ivan Beattie noted that there are constraints to be considered in raising the sewer main in a redesign, including separation from water mains, and accounting for necessary slope of the sewer line, as there is a range it must fall between.
The other major factors in higher pricing were contractors and subcontractors being conservative in their estimates on pavement and concrete installation, Haskins said.
“One thing we could do to help with that is put an escalation clause where they can bid a number now ... and it’ll give them some level of comfort,” she said. “In that we can adjust the price if it increases by a certain amount during the course of the project.”