DYER | The sole bid for Phase One of the Canadian National Railway tracks landscape screening project has come in over budget, but the Town Council accepted it anyway.
The Council voted 4-1 to accept the bid from C &T Land and Landscaping. It came in at $194,311, way over the engineer’s estimate of $133,311.
Accepting the bid means the town will have to dip into 2014 road project money to get the job done. Only $170,000 is left of the $180,000 originally allocated, meaning that Dyer will have to use $24,000 in road money.
Moreover, the project has three phases, so money for the remaining two will have to come from other sources.
The council briefly toyed with the idea of either redoing the bid specs or rebidding the project in the spring. According to Town Administrator Rick Eberly, timing may have brought about the situation of having only one bid to choose from.
Douglas Gotham, a landscape architect with Christopher Burke Engineering, which put together specs for the project, told Eberly putting the project out to bid so late in the summer may have worked against the town. If Dyer waited until the spring of 2015 to rebid the project there could be more interest. But the town would have also taken the chance of bids coming in even higher.
Residents in the neighborhoods impacted by heavy train traffic have waited long enough for the project to begin, Councilwoman Mary Tanis said before the vote.
“There are no good options here,” said Town Council President Joe Cinko, who ended voting to accept the bid.
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Councilwoman Connee Trepton was another council member with mixed feelings. Before voting yes she asked Town Attorney Bill Enslen if there would be any way of negotiating with C&T regarding costs.
“You have to accept or reject the bid,” he told her.
The situation in Hearthstone and Rockwell, neighborhoods which directly border the CN rail tracks east of Calumet Avenue, has been a contentious one throughout the early spring and summer.
Mark Drenth and Brian Oberc, as representatives of those neighborhoods, petitioned the council to use the $200,000 given the town by CN for economic development and build a landscape barrier between the tracks and their homes.
When the subdivisions first went in, that track was experiencing only a few runs a day, they said. But traffic went up dramatically after CN purchased the tracks.
Residents became concerned about their property values, and the noise and vibration from the tracks began to impact their quality of life.
In order for the CN money to be used it had to be transferred from the Economic Development Commission’s budget into the General Fund. The EDC transferred $180,000 of the money and the process began to put together a plan and bid specification package.
The three-phase project will involve planting a spruce tree barrier which could grow as high as 15 feet in 10 years.