January 19, 2017 Vol. 16 No. 9
City to issue call for Brook Street bridge proposals
Written by Jeanne Davant   

Oh deer!


A small herd of deer grazes in a Tyler Street yard on Tuesday, Jan. 17. Drivers are reminded to watch for wandering wildlife as they leave the foothills in search of food.

Photo by Rhonda Van Pelt

Manitou Springs City Council directed city staff on Tuesday to issue a request for proposals for rehabilitating the Brook Street bridge in pursuit of a design-build contract.

Council voted 6-1 on Councilor Coreen Toll’s proposal, with Mayor Nicole Nicoletta dissenting.

The motion came after a lengthy discussion of a timeline Public Services staff developed, which laid out a 14-month process from issuing a request for proposals to completing construction in early March 2018.

Councilors voted Jan. 5 to pursue a rehabilitation alternative for the bridge, while permitting a concurrent process for demolition of the bridge to continue. Council voted July 5 to demolish the bridge on an emergency basis after an engineering determination that it was in imminent danger of failure.

On Dec. 6, Council postponed consideration of a $94,000 contract with engineering firm Amec Foster Wheeler as the prime contractor for demolishing the bridge until after the city receives a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers.

The permit process is on hold until City Council makes a final decision about demolition vs. rehabilitation of the bridge, Hazard Mitigation and Resiliency Manager Sara Hartley said.

The RFP timeline was submitted at Tuesday’s meeting as required by the Jan. 5 decision. The timeline sets project milestones, which the city’s procurement process requires.

“This process is required for any project anticipated to exceed $50,000 in total cost,” Public Services Director Shelley Cobau said.

Cobau projected that, if the RFP were issued by Jan. 23, a contract could be executed by April 7. After that, concepts could be presented to the Historic Preservation Commission and Council on June 7 and 20, respectively, and Council could do its final review of plans by Aug. 15.

Another contract cycle would begin with the release of Request for Construct bids Aug. 24, with Council approving the contractor on Oct. 7. Construction would begin Oct. 4 and be completed in an estimated 120 days.

“We’re tied to some timelines that we don’t really have a choice on,” Cobau said.

Several Councilors and residents indicated that they were not happy with the lengthy timeline.

“I’m just downstream of that bridge. If it does collapse, it would directly affect me,” along with Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church and other downstream residents and businesses, Councilor Jay Rohrer said.

“It seems to me we’re prisoners of paperwork,” said John Graham, one of six citizens granted consulting party status in the Army Corps of Engineers process. “The timeline … is 10 months of paperwork and four months of action. I think we should be more pragmatic.”

Councilor Bob Todd suggested asking Amec Foster Wheeler to submit a rehabilitation proposal.

Hazard Mitigation and Resiliency Manager Sara Hartley said she had discussed reconsideration of a repair option with Robert McGregor, principal water resources engineer at Amec Foster Wheeler.

“He feels it would be a conflict of interest,” Hartley said. “They will not render another opinion.”

An emergency declaration could speed the process, City Attorney Jeff Parker said, but “it all depends on how much of an emergency it is.”

Hartley said she thought an emergency declaration “might save two weeks at most.”

Ann Nichols, another consulting party, said she agreed that “there’s very little value in declaring an emergency.”

In her work with Colorado Springs Utilities, “when Utilities has a project that has a short time, we have always gone to design-build, because that compresses the timeline considerably. I think that would help you get to the place you want to be faster.”

“I feel like quality suffers in design-build projects, but if that accelerates the process a little bit, I’m good with design-build,” Councilor Randy Hodges said. “I think we need to get started and go forward as quickly as we can.”

Nicoletta said she did not favor design-build.

“I don’t think I’ve heard anything new tonight,” Nicoletta said.

“I trust the process thus far and will stand behind it and vote same way I always have. … If we had signed a contract in December, we would be halfway there.”

After the meeting, consulting party Aimee Cox said the decision to go ahead with the design-build RFP “restores my confidence in the public process and illustrates why it is important for residents to understand how decisions are made and how to have a voice.”

“I hope that if we get a good engineering plan, we can compress the anticipated schedule by holding a few special meetings and keeping this an urgent priority,” Graham said.

Todd said Tuesday’s vote set the stage for “an apples-to-apples comparison of alternatives” on which to base the final bridge decision.

“Optimistically, we have established a process such that in the future, when similar challenges occur, the cycle to get to such a meeting of the minds will be much shorter.”