The Port Allen City Council rejected all of the budget-busting bids for the Whitehead Blvd. trail project during the City Council meeting last week. Still determined to move forward, the city is looking at ways to reduce the costs of the trail.
The Federal Highway Administration Recreation Trails Program through the Louisiana Office of State Parks awarded Port Allen a grant to cover 80 percent of the cost of the project up to $105,000, meaning the city will be reimbursed up to $84,000.
The lowest usable bid came back at just over $186,000. One proposal for the project was $123,000, but the contractor withdrew it after a few hours of submittal due to errors made in the assessment. The remaining five bidders were “significantly higher” than the $186,000 estimate, Chief Financial Officer Audrey McCain said.
The city did not allocate funds to the project in the 2018-19 budget due to the uncertainty of costs, but the trail through Whitehead Blvd. connecting with Rivault Park was expected to cost less than $130,000. Council members Hugh Riviere and Ray Helen Lawrence said they want to see the project move forward with a lower price tag during the May City Council meeting. Riviere was in favor of a budget closer to $115,000.
The Council denied all of the bids and will move forward after making changes to the plans. Some of those changes could include using wire mesh instead of rebar as reinforcement for the concrete, eliminating pipes used to block vehicles, removing benches along the route, and shortening the trail.
The Mayor designated $90,000 for the project in the proposed 2019-2020 budget. If approved by the City Council, the total trail budget would be $174,000, which includes the FHA reimbursement of $84,000. However, the City Council could make changes to that amount before the Council passes a final budget.