After bids to reconstruct Old Woodward in downtown Birmingham came in considerably higher than originally anticipated, city commissioners revised bidding documents at their meeting on Monday, July 10, in order for the city to prepare them for bids for the 2018 construction season.
The planned road project will shut down the center of downtown Birmingham along Old Woodward from Willits to Brown, and Maple to Pierce and part of E. Maple. The road requires a complete reconstruction, similar to Pierce Street and Hamilton in previous years, in that these areas have some of the oldest water and sewer lines in Birmingham, as well as a streetscape that is on a different grade than the road. Much of this current infrastructure was installed in the 1940s and has exceeded its useful life – with some sewers dating to the 1890s.
Birmingham engineer Paul O'Meara previously told commissioners the project was necessary, "to address the old streetscape and to bring it into compliance; to address ADA issues; to remove existing brick sidewalk liabilities; remove double curbs; and to replace the old underlying infrastructure."
Besides improvements, a center median will be added to Old Woodward, but commissioners said it will be smaller than the medians on N. Old Woodward between Oak and Willits in order to allow larger trucks better access in the downtown area.
The road project had been planned for this construction season, but Birmingham had budgeted $3.3 million for this phase of reconstruction of Old Woodward, with Maple planned for 2019, and S. Old Woodward from Brown to Elm in 2021. The bids received in spring 2017 were for $6.8 million on the low side, and $10 million on the higher side, so commissioners postponed the project until spring 2018.
On July 10, O'Meara said they were looking for clear direction from the commission in the hopes of getting more bidders. Commissioners streamlined the choices for contractors, choosing the city's standard streetscape design and concrete street design they have installed on Hamilton, Pierce and Merrill streets, for an estimated cost of $4.4 million, versus $6.5 million for a version that included buff washed sidewalks, concrete streets with brick pavers and turn lanes, and granite tree wells. They also chose, for a considerable savings, to go with the same Hadco standard Birmingham street lights versus the installation of a Selux brand, a more modern version.
Commissioners did support a separate electrical system from the plans, per the request of the Birmingham Shopping District, which would allow for electrical and promotional options in the future during daylight hours. Currently, lights and electricity turn off during daylight hours. Cost was estimated at approximately $232,500. There would also be the addition of eight charging stations for electric vehicles, benches and other amenities....continued on page 2