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Treasure Island closer to bridge contract
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TREASURE ISLAND – The city of Treasure Island’s bascule bridge and two other causeway bridges should be taking on an improved look soon.

City commissioners are expected to award a contract Aug. 19 for painting and concrete repair but the contractor and the cost remains to be finalized.

After a drawn-out process, Wharton-Smith Inc. of Tampa was low bidder on the project at $838,999. However, city commissioners, in an effort to save more money, decided to give No. 2 bidder Johnson Brothers Inc. ($865,623) a chance to knock more off its bid. That’s because Johnson Brothers was the contractor on the three causeway bridges and the city believes it can negotiate the earlier bid lower due to recent problems the bascule bridge has had with hydraulic pistons.

The city has spent about $227,000 in repairs to the pistons that it believes Johnson Brothers should be responsible for.

The contract calls for a 5-year warranty on the paint and the job itself.

Commissioner Alan Bildz asked if there was a reason the work needs to be done immediately.

“This project has been two years in the making,” said City Manager Reid Silverboard. “The paint is falling off the railings of some of the bridges. We have concrete that’s falling off the bottom of the bridge and some rust taking place. So this is not just a painting contract. It is also a concrete repair contract.”

Silverboard said this type of maintenance would be necessary every eight to 10 years, as well as hydraulic replacement and electronics replacement.

“These are just the costs of keeping that bridge and two relief bridges in shape,” Silverboard said.

Mayor Bob Minning then tossed out the idea negotiating with Johnson Brothers.

“At the end of the year or some time shortly thereafter, the commission is going to be in a position of what do we do to get back what we’ve already spent, or shouldn’t have had to spend, if everything had gone to the original plan,” Minning said.

“The contractor was Johnson Brothers,” he said. “Is there some way we can go to Johnson Brothers and say ‘let’s work this out.’ Maybe with the bridge painting there’s an opportunity for them to provide some form of in-kind service that can be taken off the total bill that they might be able to incorporate into a bid reduction.”

Commissioner Phil Collins agreed with the concept and the other commissioners followed.

If successful in getting Johnson Brothers to reduce its bid by about $227,000, the Johnson Brothers price for the bridge painting and repairs would drop to about $638,000, or about $201,000 less than Wharton-Smith.

If Johnson Brothers doesn’t agree to the deal, Wharton-Smith would most likely be awarded the contract.

The process started in early April 2013 when the City Commission authorized URS Corp. of Tampa to come up with specifications for the job and evaluate bids from the city’s contract managers at risk.

Five months later, the city received three bids from Biltmore Construction, $764,971; Wharton-Smith, $838,999; and Johnson Brothers, $865,623.

The commission then asked staff to seek bids only from Florida Department of Transportation pre-qualified contractors, as opposed to contract managers at risk.

Plans for the project were revised to modify the work from full removal and replacement of paint to over-coating, in an effort to reduce the cost. Two contractors on the FDOT vendor list returned bids on July 8. They were Olympus Painting, $1.41 million; and Royal Bridge, $1.45 million, which city officials considered too high.

Three days later, the contract managers at risk were contacted and asked to extend their pricing from their earlier bids. Biltmore Construction said it would have to recalculate its figures, but Johnson Brothers and Wharton-Smith said they would honor their earlier bids, leaving Wharton-Smith as the low bidder.

The city currently has $184,593 available from its LOISS and Gas Tax funds. The remainder would come from the Cause Bridge Maintenance Fund ($190,405), General Fund ($337,716) and a .1 mill tax increase for bridge expenses ($126,285) currently in place this budget year.

In other action, commissioners:

• Moved forward on an ordinance to amend the procedures for changes to the city’s comprehensive plan, future land use map and land development regulations.

• Moved forward on an ordinance to add the Planned Red Development Mixed Use Core and Planned Redevelopment Mixed Use Gulf Boulevard zoning districts to the Downtown Special Area Plan.

• Moved forward on an ordinance that creates a special event permit for events taking place on private property.

• Moved forward on a resolution with Pinellas County for an interlocal agreement for planning and mapping services.

• Moved forward on a resolution that would increase certain city fees. Summer camp fees would increase $25 for 10 weeks, the tennis fee at Treasure Bay Golf and Tennis would increase from $7 to $8 per day; rental of Treasure Island Park pavilion, $50; Roselli Park picnic area, $50; parking lot fees, increase of 25 cents per hour; and resident parking passes, increase from $40 to $45.

• Moved forward on a resolution calling for a 25 percent increase in the stormwater utility rate, which will produce an additional $162,357 in city revenue. “Nobody likes to see a rate increase, but our pipes are falling apart,” said Bildz. The average increase will be $1.79 per month.
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