Fraser awards $1.5M bid for Highway 40 safety project
The Fraser Board of Trustees on Wednesday approved a $1.5 million bid for the Pedestrian Safety Improvement Project, which involves implementing traffic calming measures on Highway 40 near Eisenhower Drive.
The project would add medians, pedestrian refuge islands and raised landscape bumps to make the area safer for walking. The bid was awarded to Bowman Consulting for $1.5 million, which was above the town’s original budget of $1.35 million.
Fraser received two grants from the Colorado Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration for the project totaling over $1 million. Because of the use of federal money on the project, the town cannot negotiate the contract with Bowman.
Jeff Durbin, town manager, said the town’s financial commitment would be about $525,000, which includes a $50,000 contingency in case the predicted cost of equipment and supplies changes.
However, Fraser Mayor Philip Vandernail said he felt the best option would be to move forward with the project now.
“To me it seems like a really great time because we’re off season now and we’re not going to have the tourism traffic that we normally have compiled with construction,” Vandernail said.
The board wanted to make sure that the project would be timely so the bid was awarded with the stipulation that the project begin this year.
After discussing the probability of construction bids increasing if they did not accept Bowman’s bid and the possibility of losing the grants if the project wasn’t started soon, the board voted unanimously to approve the bid.
“It’s time to make the rubber meet the asphalt,” Trustee Andy Miller said. “We’re just trying to make responsible decisions here and improve the look of our downtown. I really think we’ve got to bite the bullet and get brave. (…) This is a key project to showing Fraser really means it when we talk about making this place look better.”
The board also began discussions regarding the 2019 budget and financial planning. Bruce Kimmel, senior municipal advisor for Ehlers, a public finance company, shared several potential scenarios with the board so they could better plan for the upcoming year.
One scenario described what the budget would look like if the town increased sales tax by 1 percent and the other scenario described the budget without any changes to revenue streams. Both scenarios used conservative estimates, Kimmel said.
He also said these were just two options and that the town could increase revenue using many different tactics, including sales tax, property tax or fees, or they could choose not to adjust revenue at all.
“I also want you to remember that sometimes the best scenarios are incremental or hybrid approaches,” Kimmel said. “I wanted to note that these scenarios have been fairly simplistic and we can get more granular and fine-tuned.”
The board identified a few financial priorities for next year, including an estimated $6 million public works building, an arts center, upgrades to the Cozens Ranch Open Space and housing projects.
Kimmel said the town would end 2018 with a high fund balance, which he hopes gives the board more confidence in their planning decisions.
No decisions were made as this was just the start of the budgeting and financing planning for next year.
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