City and DOT developing Brown Street bridge project

Published 10:11 am Saturday, August 1, 2009

By Staff
Public-works directorto make presentationto City Council Aug. 10
Contributing Editor
Preliminary work to replace the Brown Street bridge in Washington continues, said Allen Lewis, the city’s public-works director.
“It’s on track,” Lewis said during a brief interview Friday.
Lewis plans to make a presentation on the project to the City Council on Aug. 10.
On Wednesday, Lewis met with N.C. Department of Transportation officials and the city’s project consultant to discuss the project. At that meeting, participants’ collective opinion was to replace the bridge with a closed-bottom box culvert and make plans and cost estimates accordingly. Lewis is waiting for the consultant to provide him an agreement outlining the project’s details and cost estimates. The agreement is a prerequisite to putting the project out for bids from contractors.
“If I don’t find any issue with it, I will send it to DOT for review,” Lewis said.
However, if it is determined the bridge should be replaced with a new bridge instead of a box culvert, a supplemental agreement to cover any additional planning and design costs will be needed between the city, DOT and the consultant, Ramey Kemp and Associates of Raleigh.
As the consultant prepares its agreement outlining the project’s details and cost estimates, DOT staff will be preparing DOT’s in-house estimates regarding the project.
“The consultant and NCDOT need to be within 5% of the number of man-hours and 10% of the total cost before the draft agreement will be accepted by Audit,” wrote DOT engineer Thomas Stoddard in a memorandum he sent to participants in Wednesday’s meeting. “Audit” refers to DOT’s audit division, which reviews cost estimates and related items for DOT projects.
Estimates from the consultant and DOT staff are due Aug. 31, according to the memorandum.
The project — an estimate the city got in March put the project cost at about $600,000 — will be paid for with a combination of federal funds — allocated by the N.C. Department of Transportation — and local funds, Lewis told the council in March.
The project is included in the state’s Transportation Improvement Plan. DOT’s program to repair or replace bridges in municipalities provides federal funds for 80 percent of the project cost, with the remaining 20 percent in funding to be provided by the municipality participating in a project.
Once engineering work for the project is completed, contractors will be asked to bid on building the project, said Lewis, who’s not sure how soon construction could begin after the project contract is awarded.
In October 2006, the bridge’s continuing deterioration caused the city to close the bridge for additional assessments to determine if it was feasible to repair or replace it. Motorists and several residents who live near the bridge complained about the bridge closure, saying it was an inconvenience. They asked that it be repaired or replaced.
In April 2007, the city learned that making minimum repairs to the bridge would cost about $200,000, a cost estimate that came from N.C. Department of Transportation officials. They did not recommend making those repairs because the lifespan of those repairs could not be guaranteed for more than three to five years.