Commercial Street construction prolonged |

Commercial Street construction prolonged

John Orona
Staff Writer

A Commercial Street road maintenance and rehabilitation project originally budgeted to last 60 days may now take three times longer, leaving residents and businesses to deal with prolonged construction in the historic downtown district.

According to Nevada City Manager Catrina Olson, a city assessment of the project’s progress determined just 26% was completed with about 75% of the contract time elapsed as of June 10.

The $454,613 project, contracted to CME Services, uses Senate Bill 1 and Measure S funding to replace water, sewer, and storm drain infrastructure on Commercial Street, from Union to Broad Street. Once completed, initially expected in July, Phase II of the project would rehabilitate and widen sidewalks and pavement on Commercial Street.

The designs for the second phase of the project were expected to go to the Nevada City Planning Commission this month and to be completed this fall/winter. It’s not clear whether the timeline for Phase II of the project has already been affected or whether the city has addressed the concerns with Kirk Christman, sole proprietor for CME Services.

To date, CME Services has completed work on the sewer portions of the contract, but not the storm drain or water line components.

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“Part of the reason it got delayed is because there’s a bunch of PG&E stuff on that street that was put in before PG&E had good ways of installing that stuff and being able to locate it,” said Christman. “And it’s not just PG&E, there’s a lot of underground utilities there that were unknown.”

According to Christman, with no reliable way of tracking infrastructure in the more-than-a-century old system, the crew has had to move meticulously to ensure it doesn’t run in to any unexpected hardware in addition to what’s already been color-coded and marked by the Underground Service Alert.

“When USA comes to mark all that stuff, you know there is kind of an issue when you look down the street and it looks like a rainbow — red and orange, yellow, green and blue — those are all the utilities that are there,” Christman said. “You’re trying to install newer utilities and these older utilities are in the way, and since it’s not known where they are it’s hard to dig fast because you’re looking for them. It just makes the job more difficult, that’s all.”

According to Olson, while there have been some delays due to rain, she questioned whether having enough staff could be affecting the timelime and if having less staff led to CME Services being chosen for the project as the lowest bidder.

“This contractor tends to lag in the projects…I think that it might be manpower and the reason this contractor’s bids might come in lower is because they don’t put maybe the necessary staffing to complete the projects,” Olson told the council at its meeting last week. “We’re going to be looking at that this week and how to move forward on that. We’re probably looking at buttoning it up because it is causing some of the businesses on Commercial Street some grief.”

No update to the completion date was provided by the city or contractor.

Olson, Nevada City Mayor Reinette Senum and Nevada City Engineer Bryan McAlister couldn’t be reached for comment about the contractor.

In March, three other contractors put in a bid for the Commercial Street project: C&D Construction for $525,553; Hansen Bros. for $626,653; and PSCE for $746,036.

In April 2017 CME was contracted to make water and sewer repairs for $75,000, about half the cost of some other bidders. That project required three change orders, mostly for more piping, totalling an additional $51,000.

Since then, CME has been contracted by the city on three other projects. It was the only bidder on a $70,000 project to repair drainage in August 2017, the only bidder on a $100,000 West Broad Street repair project in October 2017, and won a $15,000 bid to modify the water treatment plant in October 2018.

To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email or call 530-477-4229.

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