During an Estes Park Town Board study session on Oct. 11, Director of Public Works Greg Muhonen addressed members of the board with news that the lowest bid for the upcoming Downtown Loop Project exceeded the planned project budget by $11.3 million.
“This is not the news I wanted to bring to the board, we’re all discouraged by the bid, but we have a lot to learn before we can draw any conclusions going forward,” Muhonen explained.
The loop project, which was initiated in 2013 by the submission of a grant application to the Federal Land Access Program (FLAP) was created to combat congestion issues in downtown Estes. The final product will convert downtown streets including Elkhorn Avenue, Moraine Avenue, and East/West Riverside Drives into a one-way loop. After a series of setbacks, construction of the loop was anticipated to begin in January 2023, but this exceeding bid will potentially further push that start date back if not resolved.
Despite a $27 million bid that exceeds the $15.7 million project budget, Muhonen stressed that these numbers generated were still only preliminary results.
The preliminary engineering estimate of $15.7 million was produced approximately three months ago by a consultant of the project and then evaluated by a construction team from the Federal Highway Administration(FHWA). Due to the members involved in this process, Muhonen voiced that he is still confident that this was a sound estimate.
“It is surprising and bewildering as to why the bids were so far afield from the engineers’ estimate,” Muhonen said. “Particularly knowing that the team went through and did an update based on the knowledge they had of current construction conditions.”
After learning of this over-budget bid, the next steps involve members from FHWA, CDOT and the Town of Estes Park scheduling a discussion to talk through possible options from this point forward.
In an Oct. 21 email from Assistant Town Administrator Damweber, Damweber stated that the board has no additional information to share, but that they hope to soon.
The Estes Park Trail-Gazette will provide updates on the subject as more information is given.