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Bridge painting contract awarded
Work expected to start within 45 days; city officials expect lane closures
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TREASURE ISLAND – A 17-month odyssey for painting and repairing the city of Treasure Island’s causeway bridges came to a close Aug. 19 when city commissioners awarded an $838,999 contract to Sanford-based Wharton-Smith.

Work on the three bridges is expected to start within 45 days and will take about six months to complete.

“Are there going to be any type of lane closures?” asked Commissioner Carol Coward.

Public Works Director Mike Helfrich confirmed there would be lane closures but didn’t provide any further details.

The work will include re-application of a protective coating on the railings, steel substructure and lighting towers due to oxidation and peeling. There also will be pressure washing and coating of concrete walls.

The process to select a contractor began in April 2013 when the city initiated an agreement with the engineering firm URS to develop specifications for the painting and concrete repair of the bridges. URS completed a request for proposal, which was sent to the city’s three contract managers at risk.

In September 2013, the three companies submitted bids for cleaning and coating various concrete, steel and aluminum areas.

Biltmore Construction of Clearwater submitted the lowest bid at $764,971, followed by Wharton-Smith, $838,999; and Johnson Brothers Inc., $865,623.

But before a decision could be reached, commissioners asked a local resident-engineer to review the specifications for possible cost reductions. Commissioners also asked city staff to request bids only from Florida Department of Transportation pre-qualified contractors. The three CMR firms were not allowed to rebid.

Two firms completed the process. Olympus Painting Contractors of Tarpon Springs bid $1.414 million and Royal Bridge Inc., also of Tarpon Springs, bid $1.453 million.

The more expensive bids caught city officials off guard and forced a move back to the original CMRs. Those three firms were contacted July 11 and asked to extend their pricing from their previous proposals.

Biltmore said it would have to recalculate its price. Both Johnson Brothers and Wharton-Smith said they would honor their earlier commitments.

That made Wharton-Smith the low bidder.

But the decision was not a done deal. At an Aug. 5 workshop, commissioners asked city staff to check with Johnson Brothers, contractor for the original bridge construction, to see if it would consider lowering its bid to help offset all or a portion of the city’s recent expense related to the causeway bridge cylinder repair. Johnson Brothers did not respond, making Wharton-Smith the final choice.

The east and west bridges opened in 2004 and the bascule bridge in 2006.

The city completed the construction thanks to a federal grant. In return, the city agreed to not impose tolls. But without the toll revenue, the city has found it difficult to keep up with the cost of maintenance.

In January, Mayor Bob Minning and City Manager Reid Silverboard began discussing the possibility of returning to a toll system. The concept is still being investigated and remains on the table as a possibility to raise bridge maintenance funds.

More discussion on the topic is expected in coming months.

In other action, commissioners:

• Passed on first reading an ordinance that amends the city’s land development regulations pertaining to lighting. The ordinance prohibits outdoor lighting from shining onto an adjoining property in an annoying manner. The ordinance is not retroactive and only affects new construction. A second reading on the ordinance is expected on Wednesday, Sept. 3.

• Passed a resolution transitioning the former Vision Stewardship Committee to the Vision Steering Committee, which will update the city’s vision plan.

• Agreed to an extension of the city’s interlocal agreement with the Pinellas Planning Council for planning and mapping services. The agreement is good through Sept. 30, 2018 with an option for another four-year extension through September 2022.

• Passed a resolution to increase certain land development, parks and recreation, and parking fees, effective Oct. 1. Resident parking passes will increase from $40 to $45. Parking rates in city lots will increase 25-cents per hour. Other increases include Treasure Bay Golf and Tennis, $7 to $8 per day; and summer camp, $25 increase for a 10-week program. There also will be new fees for providing lien information on city properties, rental of TI Park Pavilion, $50 per day; rental of Rosselli Park picnic area, $50 per day.

• Passed an increase in the city’s stormwater utility rate. The average increase per single-family home will be $1.79 per month. The increase will generate an estimated $162,357 annually to help finance stormwater projects.

• Appointed Charles Weinreich and Dominique Reiter to new terms on the Code Enforcement Board; and Susan Reiter, Mitchell Shenkman, Saleen Partridge and Steve Yost to the Planning and Zoning Board.
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