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County sets plans on six new projects to get 1 percent tax funding

Nov 27, 2013 - By Eric Blom, Staff Writer

Design work for all seven projects is estimated to cost $2.1 million, and county funds will provide the entirety of construction costs.

Fremont County commissioners are authorizing county transportation superintendent Dave Pendleton to negotiate contracts with six local engineering firms to design seven projects that will be funded with optional 1 percent sales tax money.

Pendleton recommended the county pursue engaging a specific firm for each project: Apex Surveying for realigning Lost Cabin Road, DOWL-HKM for relocating Gabes Road Bridge, James Gores and Associates for relocating a bridge over the Wyoming Canal on Tunnel Hill Road, HDR for engineering repairs of bridges across the county, Inberg-Miller Engineers for a snow fence improvement project and for an asphalt overlay project on Riverview Road, and Trihydro for reconstruction of a curve on Lower North Fork Road.

$2.1 million in all

Design work for all seven projects is estimated to cost $2.1 million, and county funds will provide the entirety of construction costs for all the projects.

Commissioners gave Pendleton permission to tell the companies which project they were assigned and to negotiate a fee and the services the firms will provide.

The picks came as a result of a process the county board authorized in August.

The transportation staff solicited letters of interest, statements of qualifications and descriptions of their availability from engineering firms with offices in Fremont County. Based on those documents, transportation staff matched companies based on their areas of expertise and availabilities.

Pendleton and a civil engineer independently chose a project for each firm and then compared and synthesized their lists.

"It was readily apparent we looked at these objectively because there were minimal differences," Pendleton said.

A committee of citizens who worked on prioritizing infrastructure projects that will be completed with 1 percent money also reviewed the selections.

Right choices?

Commissioner Keja Whiteman was concerned that county engineers chose some companies for projects even though they thought others could do the work better or more cheaply.

At times, the highest ranked company was not chosen because the transportation department did not want to give multiple large projects to the one company, Pendleton said. The goal was to spread the county's business around to more local firms.

Commission chairman Doug Thompson said that even if a company did not offer the lowest price, the county could negotiate.

"I think where the rubber will meet the road is when you negotiate prices and if one of them comes in too high, then we don't have to choose that one," Thompson said.

After the transportation staff reaches agreements with the companies, the county board will be able to review the deals because it has to authorize contracts before they are signed.