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Bids on $3.7 million Oxford Street project came in at over $5 million, prompting city to reassess

After bids for the project came in at 34.6% and 38.4% higher than the engineer's estimate, the city is reassessing its options for the jointly-funded project.

Oxford street looking east from McMillan Street Thursday afternoon.
Oxford street looking east from McMillan Street Thursday afternoon.
Tim Middagh / The Globe
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WORTHINGTON — After bids for the planned Oxford Street reconstruction came in over 34% higher than the engineer's original estimate of $3,738,131.50, the Worthington City Council gathered to talk solutions at a special session Wednesday.

Only two bids were received by the May 4 deadline. The low bid, submitted by Duininck Inc., of Worthington, was $5,034,162, with the second bid coming from Hulstein Excavating of Edgerton, for the amount of $5,173,778.

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The city is currently exploring options for the Oxford Street project, which involves reconstructing the roadway between McMillian Street and Smith Avenue using federal and state aid funding, along with a small amount of stormwater utility funds.

Storm Drain and curb deterioration on the divider on Oxford St. in Worthington.
Storm Drain and curb deterioration on the divider on Oxford St. in Worthington.
Tim Middagh / The Globe

Worthington and Nobles County have an agreement to divide the cost for the project, which would amount to an additional $648,015 to $717,82 for each, if the city were to award the contract now.

Initial conversations with the state indicate that there is a chance that additional funding may be available to cover up to 80% of the added costs, putting additional expenses in the range of $129,603 to $143,564.

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“The caveat on that,” said City Engineer Steve Schnieder, “is we won't find out and won't be able to do anything with it until after the contract is awarded.”

Without knowing how much the city and county may receive in additional funding, the total cost and effect on future projects for Worthington is difficult to calculate, which is why the possibility of rebidding the project was also brought before the City Council during Wednesday’s meeting.

If the city chooses to rebid the project and wait till next year, they open up the possibility of a longer work season, which may lower project costs, as well as reopen the project to contractors already engaged in other projects for the 2022 season.

Oxford street looking West from Smith Street Thursday afternoon.
Oxford street looking West from Smith Street Thursday afternoon.
Tim Middagh / The Globe

However, the city’s federal funding is programmed for the federal fiscal year 2023, while the county’s federal funding is scheduled for the federal fiscal year 2022. Should that funding fail to be used or exchanged with another entity, the county would lose the available $1,548,000 for this project.

At this time, there doesn’t appear to be an option to exchange funding, though Schnieder stated the county is looking into the matter and whether or not the deadline can be extended.

“There’s too many unknowns, really, to make this a comfortable discussion or know what the heck to do,” Schnieder stated.

While no action was taken during Wednesday’s meeting, City Council indicated plans to continue the discussion, hopefully with representatives from the county.

NOTICE: a previous version of this article contained an incorrect professional title and a reporting error concerning the status of one bid. It has since been updated.

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Emma McNamee joined The Globe team in October 2021 as a reporter covering Crime & Courts, Politics, and the City beats. Born and raised in Duluth, Minn., McNamee left her hometown to attend school in Chicago at Columbia College. She graduated in 2021 with a degree in Multimedia Journalism, with a concentration in News & Feature Writing and a minor in Creative Writing.
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