City set to rebid on road repairs

Columbus is seeking bids this week for part of a $7.6 million project to continue repairing streets.

The Columbus Board of Public Works and Safety will consider a notice to bidders on Tuesday for an initial phase of concrete street repairs.

That work will be on streets that the city was prepared to repair last fall but delayed work when bids came in much higher than expected, city engineer Beth Fizel told Columbus City Council members.

And Fizel told city council members that she plans to start seeking bids for nearly $4 million in asphalt work April 21, with a completion date of Aug. 31. A third bid package for a second phase of concrete street repairs then could likely come in June, she said.

Overall, city officials have approved spending $7.6 million from cash reserves and special economic development funds on road repairs this year, including:

$5 million from the city’s general fund reserves, with the condition that at least $1 million will go to concrete street repairs.

$2.2 million using tax-increment financing district revenues from the city’s Central TIF district.

About $390,000 from the Airport TIF district to address needed road repairs around the Columbus Municipal Airport.

City Councilman Frank Miller voted in favor of spending $5 million from the general fund but said he was still against specifying that $1 million must go to concrete. He was the only councilman to vote against the $1 million for concrete street repair.

Miller said he thinks the engineer’s office should be able to use the money as it sees fit, rather than having its hands tied even if bids for concrete come in higher than expected again.

Council President Tim Shuffett, however, said the amendment wasn’t meant to limit the engineering office’s work but rather to make a commitment to addressing concrete street repairs.

“If you’re going to be waiting for the market to be right to do work, you’re going to be waiting forever,” Councilman Ryan Brand said. “I don’t think we can use that as a deterrent based on the amount of roads we have to repair.”

Councilman Frank Jerome expressed some concern and hesitancy about spending millions for the work, saying he thought it wouldn’t leave a lot of leeway for unexpected city expenditures that may come up during the course of the year.

But Mayor Kristen Brown said even with this spending and $670,000 in approved spending on sewer repair, overtime for city firefighters and body cameras for city police officers, the city still has healthy reserves in many of its accounts, including the TIF, general fund, economic development income tax dollars and the rainy day fund.

The city can’t delay addressing the millions of dollars of critically needed road repairs, the mayor said.

What's next

Now that city officials have given final approval to spending a total of $7.6 million on road repairs this year, the city’s engineers office will get approval to advertise for bids on projects.

The first will be an initial phase of concrete work, for which the city will start seeking bids on Tuesday. That will be followed, likely in April, by seeking bids for asphalt work and then finally by a second phase of concrete, maybe as early as June.