By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — The Norman Capital Projects budget for next year could take a big hit in the near future.
The final bill for the Robinson underpass still is being negotiated, leaving the city potentially on the hook in excess of $1 million, Pubic Works Director Shawn O’Leary told city council members Tuesday.
The Oklahoma Department of Transportation is reviewing contractor claims on the $26 million project, O’Leary said at the Norman City Council’s capital projects budget review.
“Since the project was finished over a year ago, ODOT continues to have routine evaluation of the project,” O’Leary said. “There have been a series of claims by the contractors.”
Less than half of the $26 million project was funded locally. O’Leary said there were eight funding sources, six of which were federal. However, the city might have to make up a hefty local share of any outstanding bill.
“The numbers are still very fluid,” O’Leary said. “We think it will have an impact on next year’s (capital fund) balance. We’ve reached a point where we’ve expended all of the federal funds, so we’re at a point where everything from here on out could be 100 percent city.”
Any settlement on a project this large could be as much as 10 percent more than the anticipated cost. However, O’Leary said the city could negotiate for more money from the feds.
It was the largest single transportation infrastructure project the city has ever undertaken, he said.
“We’ve got about $1 million in our account now,” O’Leary said, “but it (the amount needed) could exceed that.”
The Robinson Street underpass was the last project to be completed from the 2005 bond package. That general obligation bond will be paid off in 2027. ODOT administrated the construction, hiring Manhattan Road and Bridge Construction Company of Oklahoma City as the prime contractor and HNTB Corporation of Kansas City, Mo., as the lead engineering design firm.
The “grade separation” began construction in June 2010 and was the subject of public criticism because of delays in its opening. The Robinson underpass opened to traffic in mid-July 2012. However, it was not completed until several months later.
Robinson was affected from west of Flood Avenue to east of Stubbeman Avenue.
Tuesday’s meeting was a status report on the city’s capital improvement budget.
“We’ve got this big Robinson question, but I’d like to know if we’ve got any other savings,” Mayor Cindy Rosenthal said.
City Clerk Brenda Hall said the city’s audio-vision system replacement project is coming in well under budget.
Additionally, some road projects came in under budget, in part, because the city was able to get good prices on asphalt, but that money was used to pave more roads. All of those funds are dedicated to road pavement projects.
“We will have an excess of about a million and a half on asphalt prices,” O’Leary said.
Concrete, however, has been higher than anticipated, but the paving programs still cost less than anticipated overall.
“We’ve done resurfacing of streets in whole neighborhoods,” Revitalization Planner Linda Price said.
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