ADOT increases Church Street rebuild cost by $500,000

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: While the water main improvement project on Church Street is going as planned. A total rebuild of the street is up in the air after a $500,000 increase from ADOT.

Thatcher looking to SEAGO for additional $495,000 in federal funds

By Jon Johnson

THATCHER – The Church Street Water Main Upgrade Project continues to move forward but a planned complete rebuild of the road from U.S. Highway 70 to Stadium Avenue is now up in the air after a new estimate from the Arizona Department of Public Transportation increased the cost from $2.3 million to $2.9 million.

The water project, which was scheduled to take place from July to December ahead of the rebuild project, is being undertaken by the city of Safford, which owns and operates the water system. CNB Excavating has been removing parts of the street to replace more than one mile of 12-inch diameter pipe and 1,615 feet of 4-, 6-, and 8-inch diameter water mains.

The town of Thatcher has been planning the complete rebuild of Church Street from U.S. Highway 70 to Stadium Avenue that would widen the street and include new sidewalks, curbs, gutters, and asphalt from curb to curb. The plan also features parallel parking and bicycle lanes on both the southern and northern sides.

The project also is planned to create a roundabout at the intersection of Church Street and Third Avenue. Thatcher previously constructed a roundabout in Daley Estates at the odd intersection of Golf Course Road, Reay Lane, Hoopes Avenue, and Robinson Avenue.

However, at the Thatcher Town Council’s Monday meeting, Town Manager Heath Brown presented an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) between Thatcher and ADOT and said the cost estimate increased from $2.3 million to $2.9 million.

“So, we need an additional $495,000 in federal funds, which increases our share about $30,000,” Brown said.

In answering Council Member Ashley Smith’s question about why the costs increased so much Brown advised that supply costs have increased in the time since the town’s last estimate and that the closer a project gets to final plans the more detailed an estimate becomes.

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: Workers use heavy machinery to dig up a portion of Church Street to replace the water main underneath.

Brown advised the council to move forward with the IGA and that he felt 75-percent confident that the Southeastern Arizona Governments Organization (SEAGO) would be able to provide the necessary increased federal funding.

“I think there’s a very good chance when we take this back to SEAGO and explain what happened, they will find that extra money,” Brown said.

Additionally, once the project receives bids, the cost may be actually lower than the projected cost since ADOT generally is conservative in its estimates because it doesn’t want to have to ask for more money after bidding a project. In the case of the aforementioned water main project, Safford had that project budgeted at $1.3 million but it was awarded to CNB Excavating for $995,000.

Brown said in a worst-case scenario, the town could put in the $495,000 itself (along with the $30,000) or it could end up having to wait another year for the adequate funding. Of course, by then costs could rise again.

Mayor Bob Rivera expressed his belief SEAGO would also be able to come through with the extra federal funds, and the council unanimously voted to move forward with the IGA as stated.

If the project moves forward as planned, construction is slated to begin in early 2019.