Marquette commission approves $5.8 million shoreline restoration contract


Journal Staff Writer

The Marquette City Commission approved a $5.8 million contract for the Lake Superior Shoreline Restoration Project during its most recent meeting.

The project for the restoration of the Lake Superior shoreline adjacent to Lakeshore Boulevard between Hawley Street and Pine Street includes armoring and stabilization, habitat restoration, and the creation of enhanced public area.

City Manager Karen Kovacs explained at the meeting that due to permitting delays beyond the city’s control, it took 18 months to get to this point. The contract was tentatively awarded to the lowest bidder, Smith Contractors, on May 31, 2022. The city publicly advertised for bids and a bid opening occurred on May 5, 2022.

Smith was selected as the contractor with a bid of $4.312,877.60. Other bids received were: Payne and Dolan (Milwaukee), $6,248,763.95; A. Lindberg & Sons, $6,391,840.70; Bacco Construction, $6,345,920.20. Baird, the consulting engineers, had estimated a cost of $7,360, 000 for the project.

Final approval of permits from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers were completed Nov. 15.

Kovacs said Smith’s original bid was guaranteed for 120 days and the contract was extended by mutual agreement. The city asked for an updated cost adjustment due to the year-and-a-half time lapse. Smith’s assessment of increased costs revised its bid, including some design modifications, to a total cost of $5,817,941.26 to complete the project. Since the bids had already been published, rebidding could challenge the integrity of the bidding process, and Smith’s updated costs were still below all of the original bids submitted.

Dennis Stachewicz, Marquette director of planning and community development, explained, “We did review the costs across Michigan and across the Midwest. They (Smith) were pretty much lower (than current costs). We were seeing over 40% total increases across the Midwest region.”

Kovacs added, “Getting this completed is critical. About $1.7 million of this (project) is grant funded (toward the $5.8 million price tag).”

The motion to approve the revised contract was made by Mayor Pro Tem Jessica Hanley and seconded by commissioner Jenna Smith.

In the discussion period, commissioner Jermey Ottaway asked if a 10% contingency is included in the budget.

Kovacs said a 10% contingency for unseen issues is always included in projects of this size.

“There are several layers of grant funding, plus the bonding. And this project was also split up into Phase I and Phase II. We are covered (for the cost of project) without grants and bond funding,” she said. “The project was originally estimated for $7.3 million. With the revised cost estimates, it’s still coming in closer to the original $5 million bid.”

Commissioner Cody Mayer noted there had been some questions when the bids were opened and discussed the first time, with the Smith bid being significantly lower than the other bids. He noted with the revised costs the bid is now higher than the next three bids submitted.

“If the folks that were willing to grant us those funds were willing to wait 20 months, how long would the rebid process take?”

Kovacs said it can take 30-45 days, plus review, to put out for bids.

Stachewicz chimed in, “That would put us out of the grant funding (timeline), plus any legal challenges about the process in rebidding.”

City Attorney Suzanne Larsen explained, “There was a clause for the mutual agreement to extend (the contract). We still have an agreement and could open ourselves to a legal challenge if we do not honor that extension and bid that was already granted.”

The motion to approve a contract with Smith Construction for the project for $5.817,941.26 based on quantities and unit prices in the proposal, allow the city manager to use a 10% contingency for any unknown circumstances, and authorize the mayor and city clerk to sign the contract was approved on a six-one vote, with Mayer voting no.


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