During a council meeting that featured an agenda busting at the seams, the East Ridge City Council took up discussion regarding the bids for improvements to Camp Jordan Parkway.
Exit One LLC successfully petitioned the council a few months ago with a request to upgrade the parkway by widening the road from two lanes to five, and to straighten the road to allow it to connect to Ringgold Rd farther west. The improvements, the developers had previously stated, were required in order to lure tenants to their properties located off Camp Jordan Parkway.
The developers paid close to $100,000 dollars to have the road and highway ramps redesigned. The redesign was estimated by the developers to cost in the neighborhood of $3 million. The city along with the Tennessee Department of Transportation and the Hamilton County Commission entered into a inter-local agreement were both TDOT and Hamilton County agreed to contribute $1 million toward the project.
During the initial round of bidding the bids received were substantially higher than the $1 million the city had expected phase 1 _ the Camp Jordan Parkway portion of the project _ to cost. The lowest bid at the time came in at $2.6 million. After reworking the request for quote, the newest round of bidding returned bids that came in substantially lower. The two bids received were $1,825,999 by Brown Brothers and $1,952,229.50 by Talley Construction.
The City, after consulting with their attorney and UT’s Municipal Technical Advisory Service, decided to accept the higher bid of Talley Construction. The City leadership said they were concerned with dealing with Brown Brothers. Some months ago, during the city’s search for a Fire Hall property near Camp Jordan, city officials said a verbal agreement had been struck with the property owner, a member of the Brown family. City officials said the property owner subsequently changed the parameters of the agreement and demanded more money for the property, leaving a bad taste in the mouths of city leadership.
Vice Mayor Marc Gravett stated at the meeting, “Look I am usually not in favor of spending more money than we need to, but in this case I feel we should.”
To which Councilman Larry Sewell replied, “You get what you pay for.”
The council had already allocated $500,000 for the project from the state Street Aid Fund. Hamilton County will be contributing $500,000 this year for phase I as well. TDOT’s million dollar contribution to the project will be solely towards phase II, which involves reworking the ramps for Interstate 75.
With the bids coming in higher than expected the additional $952,229.50 would, according to the inter-local agreement, be the responsibility of the City of East Ridge. In a separate motion, the council chose to allocate those funds by drawing an additional $400,000 from the state Street Aid fund and by cashing in a CD the city currently holds that has a value slightly more than $550,000. The CD was one that was obtained by City Treasure Thad Jablonski before his departure and can be withdrawn at any time with no penalty.