ISHPEMING - The Ishpeming City Council and Downtown Development Authority discussed the Malton Road project at a special joint meeting Monday.
The DDA approved a change order at its Oct. 23 meeting for the construction contract that included removing asphalt pavement and increasing earthwork associated with the Malton Road project. The change order increased the cost of the contract by $49,033.
"At one point we were just elated because it looked like based on certain cost savings we would be able to achieve a near 100 percent paved road right out of the box, which was great," DDA Chairman David Aeh said. "This is quite distressing then to get to this point and be where we are but like I said previously this is not the end, it's just a new beginning and work to fulfill our promises."
Ishpeming city officials are unhappy with a change order that eliminated paving Malton Road, shown under construction recently. (Journal file photo by Adelle Whitefoot)
According to a memo sent to city council members by City Manager Jered Ottenwess, the cause of the change appears to be poor design engineering by U.P. Engineers and Architects.
According to Ottenwess' memo, at the May 9 city council meeting the council unanimously passed a motion to "approve the Malton Road alignment as presented to authorize the construction bidding documents, and to approve the installation of a barrier to prohibit Wabash Street connecting traffic."
The memo also states that Ottenwess, "based on my recollection, the addition of asphalt to the bidding documents was made subsequent to the May 9 meeting after the design engineering work determined that asphalt may be possible within established budget limits."
The current contract includes $435,539.75 for construction and $107,700 for engineering, totaling $543,239.75 without paving. The Malton Road project was budgeted at $583,500 in this year's budget.
Some council members said they made promises to people that the road would be paved and want to keep that promise.
"I think that if we sum up everything in a nutshell, some council people are concerned that the project isn't going to get done and that's been made very clear to the DDA," Mayor Pat Scanlon said. "I think the important thing here is that (the DDA) understands that the council that's still remaining is very concerned that this needs to be paved. When a council person makes a promise to constituents obviously they'll stand by it."
Aeh said it's admirable that the council members are making sure they keep their promises.
"We can get this done and it's as simple as figuring out where we tweak the budget and how we find the resources to get it done," Aeh said.
After the change order was approved, the DDA had Ottenwess draft a letter to UPEA to express its displeasure with the engineering services provided by UPEA for the Malton Road project. Included in complaints was the project cost increased by more than $49,000 while reducing the scope of improvement by eliminating all paving, with the exception of intersections at a railroad crossing and the M-28 Business Route.
In addition, the letter states that a UPEA representative at the Oct. 22 DDA meeting referred to the error as a typographic error on the bidding tabulation sheets, but Ottenwess said he believes it is a design error and that this type of error goes well beyond a typographic error.
The letter ended with the DDA requesting that UPEA shares equally in the cost of the design errors, with UPEA's share being $24,516.75.
Adelle Whitefoot can be reached at 906-486-4401.