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posted: 6/5/2014 5:30 AM

Naperville delays decision on 'overpriced' street resurfacing

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Roughly 13 miles of street resurfacing is on hold for two weeks while Naperville staff members investigate why bids came in $586,000 higher than estimated.

The city council delayed a decision on awarding the project to the lower of two bidders whose prices came in near $5.05 million as opposed to the $4.46 million officials expected.

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Some council members wanted to reject both bids and seek new contracts.

"If we send the message out that we're going to rebid this and we need a new bid as soon as possible, we're likely to save some significant money," council member David Wentz said.

But others worried new bids might come back even higher because construction companies already are busy and gas prices are on the rise.

"Yeah, it's overpriced, but there's no guarantee it will come back lower," council member Paul Hinterlong said. "In most cases, it doesn't."

Bill Novack, Naperville's director of transportation, engineering and development, said he will bring information back to the council before its June 17 meeting about pricing other municipalities received on their street resurfacing bids. Details about the unit prices other towns saw for components such as asphalt, concrete, oil and gas could help the council determine if it's worth seeking new bids, council member Grant Wehrli said.

Naperville's street resurfacing project includes overlaying existing asphalt and replacing deteriorated curbs and sidewalks along 12.83 miles of city streets. In addition, printed crosswalks will be installed downtown where Washington Street intersects with Jefferson Avenue and Chicago Avenue. Improvements to increase accessibility for people with disabilities will be made at selected intersections throughout the city.

The resurfacing bids and the companies that submitted them raised another question for council member Joseph McElroy involving local vendor preference.

The lower bid of $5,049,362 came from R.W. Dunteman Co. of Addison. The higher bid from K-Five Construction Corporation, which is based in Lemont but has a plant in Naperville, came in for $638 more at $5,050,000.

Some council members said the difference -- .01 percent -- is insignificant for such a large project, and McElroy said the closely matched resurfacing bids present an opportunity to examine whether Naperville should prefer hometown companies in some circumstances.

An ad hoc committee convened by the Naperville Development Partnership is studying whether the city should create some type of local vendor preference framework, said Christine Jeffries, the organization's president and CEO.

"When are bid prices so close that maybe there are other factors that should be considered?" Jeffries asked.

The committee will consider if financial or environmental factors, such as a company's number of local employees, the amount of property taxes it pays to Naperville school districts, or the distance it would have to travel to deliver goods or services should be weighed in the bid process.

While the development partnership is beginning discussions about local vendor preference, some council members said that should remain distinct from what to do about the street resurfacing bids.

"I think whenever everything is equal, we should prefer local businesses," council member Steve Chirico said. "But it's separate from this decision. Both bids are too high."

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