ALAMOSA — In a special meeting Wednesday evening, the Alamosa city council approved a bid for First Street reconstruction, which will begin with intersection work at Mullins Avenue possibly within the next 10 days.
The council also decided to close First Street while reconstruction work is underway this summer. The closure will help provide safety for residents as well as those working on the street and will save the city about $82,000, which was critical, since the First Street bid came in over budget.
The council approved the pared-down bid for Gardner Excavation, the sole bidder, for $452,812.
The amount is still above the $400,000 budgeted for the multi-phased project this year, but the initial bid came in at $729,120. Alamosa City Public Works Director Pat Steenburg said he could not in good conscience have recommended approval for that original bid.
This was a difficult project to estimate, Steenburg explained, because of its complexity. He was able to work with the bidder to get the figure down to $536,357 and could shave another $83,545 off that number if the city council agreed to close First Street to public traffic for five to seven weeks. The council agreed to the street closure.
Steenburg and Alamosa City Manager Heather Brooks explained that detours would actually be faster for motorists than having to navigate street work with flaggers and construction.
“It’s just going to be quicker to go around anyways,” Brooks said.
Steenburg added, “I have traveled the different detours, and I think they will be faster than waiting for flaggers.”
He added, “It’s going to be inconvenient regardless of how we do it, but this will be the best way.”
He said closing down First Street during construction not only will save money and increase safety but will also speed up the project by two entire weeks.
This will be the first of a seven-year project, and this first year will involve three phases: realignment of Mullins Avenue, bringing it perpendicular to Murphy Avenue, which will be the least disruptive phase for motorists; rebuilding the intersection at Murphy and First, during which time traffic will have to use alternative routes on Victoria, Monterey, Second Street and Pike, a phase that will last about two weeks; and First Street reconstruction from Pike to Edgemont.
“We will close First Street from the east side of Pike to the west side of Edgemont,” Steenburg said.
With alternate routes, people will still be able to get to the hospital, clinic and university library.
“We are not preventing access to anything,” Steenburg said. “The clinic and hospital can be accessed from Second Street.”
Steenburg explained that ambulances would still be able to access the emergency room through alternative measures that he, the hospital and Valley Wide have worked out.
“We will have it set up so they can access their entire route…do everything they need to do without getting on First Street,” he said.
Each phase will be completed before moving on to the next phase, Steenburg explained. With the council’s approval Wednesday, the first phase realigning Mullins could begin in about 10 days, he added.
Before the contractor begins work, the city will conduct a heavy educational campaign on the city’s web site, social media and the newspaper so the public knows where the detour routes will be, Brooks said.
Councilman Charles Griego said there are parts of First Street that are in really bad shape, which is prompting this project, so he hoped the public would be understanding and “bear with us.”