Last year the City of East Ridge planned on the reconfiguration of Exit 1 to cost about $2.5 million. Last month that number doubled. Last night an extra million was added to the price tag.
In Thursday night’s council meeting, the board voted to enter into an agreement with engineering firm Amec Foster Wheeler for construction engineering inspections service work on the project. Price tag, $759,000. Then, the council approved a bid from Hurst Excavating for $256,000 to repair a sewer line that runs under the proposed on ramp to Interstate 75.
City Manager Scott Miller said the construction project, estimated by engineering firm Vaughn and Melton at $4.7 million, will go out to bid next week. Those bids will be opened on Tuesday, Aug. 1.
“I’m certainly excited to get this project moving,” Miller told the council. “I want to see ground broken by the end of August. That is my hope.”
The total cost for construction of the reconfiguration is now anticipated to cost $6.2 million, officials said. In previous months, the city secured help on the construction tab from Hamilton County and TDOT for roughly $2 million. The City had originally allocated $500,000 for the project.
As it stands now, East Ridge will have to come up with an additional $3.7 million to fund the reconfiguration that will direct traffic exiting from I-75 directly onto Ringgold Road at the entrance to Camp Jordan Parkway.
Miller said the $3.7 million will be obtained through a 20-year bond. The service on that debt will come via sales tax dollars from the Border Region Act, he said.
Hurst Excavating was one of only two companies to bid on the job to repair a 50-year-old, 12-inch sewer pipe that is buried 22 feet under ground that runs under the interstate.
Officials said the old pipe has both horizontal and vertical fractures in it and will not support the extra weight of dirt and concrete that will be on top of it when the north-bound on ramp is built. Even though the line will be abandoned in the future, repairs must be made.
Miller said that the job was originally put out to bid on June 30 but the city received no bids, in part, because the job was too risky.
He explained that construction companies were concerned that there was a potential to get equipment stuck in the line during the pipe-bursting process. There was no provision in the original bid documents to address this situation.
Hurst will undertake the project with the safeguard that they may submit a change order should the pipe-bursting fail due to efforts beyond their control.
Prior to the regular meeting, the Council held a special called meeting to consider a proposal by CARTA to provide continuing bus service to the city. CARTA currently provides limited bus service to East Ridge which is funded primarily by grants which will expire in August 2018.
Philip Pugliese, CARTA’s Transportation System Planner, presented results from a public survey of 167 people who participated. About 80 percent of those people wanted to see bus service in the city. More than half of those said they would ride the bus to work. Fifty percent said they would ride the bus either on a daily or weekly basis. Of those participating in the survey, less than 10 percent said they had some kind of disability.
CARTA officials looked at potential routes, types of buses that would be used, frequency of service and the times that bus service would be available.
What they came up with was a proposal to devote three small buses (the same used in the Care-A-Van service) to East Ridge where a person could contact CARTA with their address and their destination. A bus would come to their home, pick them up and drop them off anywhere inside of East Ridge. If they wanted to go downtown, the bus could drop them at Eastgate where they could connect with a bus to take them to Chattanooga.
The buses would run Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The charge would be $1.50 to ride. That would drop to 75 cents for seniors, the disabled and students.
The cost to the city would be $300,000 per year. A significant portion of that cost could be offset by state and federal grants, CARTA officials said.
Councilman Jacky Cagle asked if the elderly and disabled could be taken directly from their homes to their doctors located outside of East Ridge? Pugliese explained that service, called the Care-A-Van service, is the costliest service that CARTA provides.
Cagle said he thought the city needed bus service, but said he would like a “ballpark” cost of providing the Care-A-Van service.
“The people I’ve been talking to, that’s the kind of service they want,” Cagle said. “I’d like to give people a chance to get to their doctor and get back home.”
Mayor Brent Lambert said it would “be wise” to think about the proposal. He said that the council should be able to make a decision on how to proceed within the next six weeks.