The Hays City Commission on Thursday approved reconstruction of Allen Street from Eighth to 24th and Vine, accepting a low bid from Paul-Wertenberger Construction in the amount of nearly $2.4 million.
The city intends to pay cash for the project and had budgeted up to $4 million.
“It’s long overdue,” Vice Mayor Henry Schwaller IV said. “The street has significant traffic, and it’s going to be a great benefit to the neighborhood and also the community who uses that as a shortcut. Also, it’s wonderful we can pay cash and not have to borrow money to do a project of this magnitude.”
Approximately $1.9 million will be funded from the commission’s capital reserve budget for the new concrete street, with an additional more than $500,000 coming from water capital funds for water line and stormwater improvements.
The bid was accepted in a 4-1 vote, with Commissioner Sandy Jacobs dissenting. Jacobs spoke in favor of an alternate proposal — also from Paul-Wertenberger — that was about $100,000 more and called for brick pavers.
A section of Allen Street from Eighth to 12th streets is brick pavement. Jacobs said the pavers would improve neighborhood aesthetics and provide a fitting transition, as several residential streets leading to Allen are paved with brick.
“That is a wonderful neighborhood down there. All the streets that come up to Allen south of 13th Street are all brick,” she said “I would have liked to see that be the end spot. I certainly understand the motion and the $100,000 savings, but after seeing 13th Street and wishing it had been brick, I will be voting no on the motion.”
Commissioner Chris Dinkel spoke in favor of the base bid without the inclusion of any brick.
“Having new brick for this small portion of the road would look really patched together,” Dinkel said. “I think if this was a discussion of brick all the way through or no brick at all, that would be one thing, but having this little section that’s kind of off in a residential area on an area that’s not really part of the downtown district, I don’t think the aesthetics make sense.”
The city received six bids for the project, with Paul-Wertenberger submitting the lowest costs. The timeline calls for construction to be substantially complete by Nov. 16, with a tentative start date of March 5.
Allen Street has been identified as a high priority for street repair since 2011. It is classified as a major collector road, carrying between 2,000 and 4,000 vehicles daily.
The street’s two-lane configuration with parking on the west side of the street will remain the same. Water and sewer line repairs will be made north of 10th Street simultaneously during road construction.
Sections of the street likely will be closed to through traffic during construction. An informational meeting for residents affected by the project will be Feb. 12 at city hall.
“I don’t know that I really necessarily have strong feelings about the brick,” Mayor James Meier said. “But I think what’s more important is we’re paying cash for a project that is coming in $2 million under what our estimates would have been. I think it's another example of why we should continue to have discussions about doing more of these projects now vs. later because the bidding environment is very good.”
In other business, the commission approved a rezoning request and final plat for a portion of the Ottley First Addition, which is located just west of Walmart near north Vine Street. A developer is in the process of seeking economic incentives for a future Hilton Garden Inn and convention center on the site.