ASHLAND TRANSPORTATION COMMISSION
OCTOBER 23, 2014
CALL TO ORDER: Chair David Young called the meeting to order at 6:00 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main Street.
Commissioners Present: Joe Graf, Alan Bender, Shawn Kampmann, Corinne Viťville and David Young
Staff Present: Scott Fleury, Mike Faught (arrived at 6:20, left at 6:58) and Tami De Mille-Campos
Council Liaison Present: Carol Voisin
E. Nevada Bridge Connection
Fleury reminded the commission of the background on this item. Last year staff went into the process of applying for federal funding for the E. Nevada Bridge Connection which was a priority project in the Transportation System Plan (TSP) and showed an estimated cost of 2.261 million dollars. Along the way, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) called and asked to scope the project (like they did for all of the projects that were out for funding). Staff met with them on site and then ODOT went back and entered everything into their system and came back with a total cost of 8.5-9 million dollar estimate which kind of pushed them out of the funding limit. At that point staff went to work validating the TSP estimate and ODOTís estimate. Staff contacted Oregon Bridge Engineering Consultants (OBEC) and they re-estimated the project and the process even included a few meetings with ODOT along the way.
Jeff Bernardo, P.E. (Civil Engineer) with OBEC Consulting Engineers presented their estimate and explained how they came to that conclusion. He said since the sixties OBEC has typically focused on projects related to bridges, highways, and various other things. They are very familiar with projects such as the E. Nevada Bridge Connection. He stated that when Faught and Fleury called him they wanted to have OBEC provide kind of a third party look at the project. The TSP had one estimate and ODOT had a pretty significantly higher cost. When he first saw ODOTís estimate of 8.8 million dollars he felt like it was a kind of a silly number and was a bit over the top. So what they did was they met with Fleury and discussed the details of the wants and needs. This estimate they came up with is what they would consider a conceptual cost estimate, in which they stay very conservative but at the same time very detailed. To come up with these numbers they went to the extent of pulling some FEMA hydraulic data, looking at how wide the floodplain is, and the flood way to try to get a decent estimate of how long this bridge would need to be. They also took an aerial photo and came up with a contour map to see if the vertical alignment would work for this structure and the connecting roadway. Most importantly they put in a fairly hefty contingency of thirty percent and came up with a total of about 5.5 million dollars. At the time this was done using the mindset that federal funds would be used on this project. Once federal dollars are used it generally requires the highest level of environmental studies and design standards. So these figures were put into the calculation with that in mind.
Bernardo stated that 5.48 million dollars is very conservative and is going to leave a lot of room for things that could come up; such as geotechnical issues, surprises as you get further into hydraulic studies, environmental issues or archaeological/cultural issues. Right of way is another one which they have included 550 thousand dollars to deal with the access issues and the adjacent land owners. He added that this is probably more like a 3-4 million dollar project if things go well.
Kampmann asked if they prepare all of their estimates conservatively. Bernardo answered that for some of their clients they do not. He said there have been times where they go with the ďglass is half fullĒ approach at this early stage and then you tell them they need say 3 million dollars and then it ends up being a 3.8 million dollar project. He said that is a really painful position to be in so the answer is yes they like to be conservative. To that Kampmann pointed out that all of the comparable projects that were included in the meeting packet came in over budget. Bernardo answered that the easiest explanation is that each of the project totalís for the comparable projects are the actual final costs for the projects escalated per the US department of labor rates for 2014. He added that we have been in a trend lately where bids have been very competitive. There are a lot of contractors, not a lot of projects & so they have found that often times the actual project costs (which go to the lowest bidder) are far below their estimate. He also pointed out that their biggest fear is they have a client whose costs far exceed the estimate and then they are in a very uncomfortable position. Young responded that Bernardo has done a really good job of expressing the fact that they are very conservative on their estimate but he still isnít clear why the cost per square foot is so much higher than the comparables. Bernardo pointed out the only bridge out of these that hasnít been built is this bridge. They have estimated the E. Nevada Bridge to be 200 feet long but often times the types of things that control the length of a bridge is hydraulics. They have downloaded some FEMA data & looked at some lines on maps but what they havenít done is the 20-30 thousand dollars worth of hydraulic modeling that really must be done to put a brand new bridge over this creek.
Faught informed the commission that having an estimate that is a little bit high is a good thing. He also added there is some risk if you are too high because then the bids start creeping up but in this particular case where there was so much controversy around ODOTís number and then OBECís number they were trying to stay consistent with the way they were estimating. Faught apologized for missing the previous conversation due to being late to this meeting because he had just come from the Normal Avenue meeting. He pointed out the biggest difference between the two estimates is the difference in the access points. He also stated it sounds like the big question the committee has at this point is regarding whether a thirty percent contingency is suitable. He thinks at this point for a project this size it is a very smart move on the cities part because what they donít know right now is how much right of way is going to cost, what the unit bids are going to be etc. He added that he is really comfortable that the project can be built for around 4 million but there are just enough variables out there that they donít know for sure & he doesnít want to have this project come in significantly outside of what the cost estimates are. He said if they had paid OBEC to do full engineering at this point and had completed the right of way analysis then he would say the estimate needs to be pinned down. However, from a planning perspective you are going to see all of the projects with a thirty percent contingency from this point on.
Chair Young remarked this is all public record and he wonders if this information could cause bids to come in higher because the estimate is so high. Faught answered that at this point this is a planning estimate, when we get ready to go out for bid the estimate will have been fine tuned and that is the number that will get advertised. Right now this is just a placeholder for a project, and now staff will go seek funding for it. Once the funding is secured then they will start doing the engineering and a more specific bidding process. He said he agrees with Youngís concern and could see that happening if they were to bid it out right now and that is why the engineering must happen first. Bernardo agreed and said the further you go into the design stage the more your contingency shrinks. Right now this estimate is calculated at about a thirty percent design level. When you get to about a ninety percent level of design then you drop the contingency to about ten percent. At the time of bid they recommend about a three percent contingency because there are still things that can crop up during construction, such as geotech. He mentioned that some of these things would cost you more to study than to just leave a little contingency there and be covered in the event that something did pop up during construction. Faught agrees with that.
Bender asked how long they expect this project to take and how long did the comparables take to complete? Bernardo answered they think the construction side of this project is likely a one season project, so essentially one year for construction. Faught added the design side of it should happen a year before that and Bernardo agrees. Bernardo added you should allow at least a year for the engineering. There are many steps to the process such as environmental permitting, right of way impacts etc. He also mentioned that inflation is also another thing to consider so having a little bit of a cushion to deal with that is important.
Councilor Voisin stated she would have loved to have seen ODOTís budget so she could see the differences between the two estimates. She asked if the specs are the same for the two different estimates. He answered they are not the same specs, there are some differences and ODOT made some other assumptions. For example, they had assumed a 400 foot bridge which really goes from top of bank to top of bank. The overall structure costs are fairly similar but some of the places where their numbers ballooned out of shape were areas such as temporary traffic control (they estimated 421 thousand dollars), removal of structures and obstructions (they estimated 126 thousand dollars) as well as a few others. He added the scoping estimate spreadsheet that ODOT uses is a very helpful tool for large highway projects and it is based heavily on total cost of project percentages. So for instance the temporary traffic control figure is calculated at 10 percent of the overall cost of the project. On this particular project OBEC estimated 25 thousand for temporary traffic control because there are two dead end streets. So you might put up a few signs and a few barricades etc. He also mentioned that when you take that number that is based on a percentage and you add the thirty percent contingency which they have added as well then you start to see these additional amounts compound. Voisin remarked that she understands that but it is still well over a 3 million dollar difference, she would like to see what makes up that difference. Faught answered that ODOTís estimate included raising the bridge up enough to allow right of way for the two homes and the bridge would span over 4 hundred feet in length. What ODOT isnít aware of is that the City owns property that can possibly be traded and therefore the city would move the road over about 15 feet. OBECís proposal would cut the length of the bridge in half (2 hundred feet). So the key difference is ODOT doesnít have this background data and they didnít consult the City about that.
Faught explained the next step is to secure the financing of 5.5 million dollars. He added they need to have all of the money before they take off the engineering piece. He pointed out the only reason he didnít go after the funding this year is because the city wonít have the money until fiscal year 2017/2018 & you canít wait that long to spend it. Once you obtain the funding there are rules on spending the money. Once the funding is secured for the whole project then the city will proceed with the request for proposals for engineering and wetland, assuming the Council approves of it first.
Voisin asked Faught where the 5.5 million dollars would come from. Faught responded that is what he would be taking to Council. He added the difference would come out of the Street fund debt service. So the money would be borrowed using a low interest loan through the revolving loan fund that is available for transportation.
Kampmann isnít sure why this particular project is such a high priority over all of the other projects. Faught replied he was planning to leave the meeting early because of a prior engagement. However he would really like to provide the answer for that at a future meeting.
Downtown Parking Management and Circulation Ad Hoc Advisory Committee
Viťville/Bender m/s to recommend Council approves Graf as the liaison to the Downtown Parking Management and Circulation Ad Hoc Advisory Committee.
Kampmann commented he was originally interested in being the liaison. Chair Young added he and Kampmann had a discussion before the meeting and since the Mayor made the interim appointment, he and Graf met for two hours and Graf has gone through all of the committee materials to bring him up to speed. He said as he explained to Kampmann earlier when the original agenda item to appoint two members was discussed he was absent from that meeting and therefore two members were appointed. At that time Graf had voiced his willingness to serve but felt he may be too new to represent the Transportation Commission. Voisin suggested an alternative approach and that is having an alternate who would be able to attend and participate but not vote. Young replied that everyone is welcome to attend these meetings anyways. Kampmann said he isnít really interested in serving as an alternate and is ok with just voting on the motion.
Approved by unanimous consent.
Bicycle Network Prioritization
Fleury presented the current TSP Bicycle Network Project list for discussion about prioritization. He recommended the commission focus on the high projects due to the volume of projects.
The commission decided to go down the list one by one and decide on which projects to keep and recommend for funding in the six year CIP update. Any projects not recommended for funding in the current budget process will still be part of the TSP and evaluated during the next budget cycle for possible funding.
Chair Young described the bicycle boulevard concept. He stated the ideas to keep in mind are those stretches that will really enhance safe routes to school and connectivity. He said he would also add well traveled roads and not dealing with roads that have huge grades, such as Wimer Street. Fleury pointed out one that they have already completed is the Glenn/Orange connection where they put signage and sharrows there. He added the other caveat to certain level order of streets to get that bicycle boulevard designation is the 20 mph posting that the state now allows you to do independent of a state traffic engineer per the states guidelines.
(O4) Retrofit Bicycle Program - keep
(B2) Wimer St. Bicycle Boulevard - remove
(B5) Maple/Scenic/Nutley Bicycle Boulevard - remove
(B7) Iowa St. Bike Lane - keep
(B10) S. Mountain Ave. Bike Lane - keep
(B11) Wightman St. Bicycle Boulevard - keep
(B13) B St. Bicycle Boulevard - keep
(B16) Lithia Way Bicycle Boulevard - keep
(B17) Main St. Bicycle Boulevard - keep
(B19) Helman St. Bicycle Boulevard - keep
(B26) Normal Ave. Bike Lane - remove
(B29) Walker Ave. Bicycle Boulevard - remove
(B31) Indiana St. Bicycle Boulevard - keep
(B33) Eighth St. Bicycle Boulevard - keep
(B38) Oregon/Clark St. Bicycle Boulevard - remove
(TR1) North side Trail - remove
FOLLOW UP ITEMS
Sherman/Iowa speed analysis
Fleury said they did a speed and volume study out there (included in packet). Fleury stated he spoke to Officer MacLennan and he is going to park the speed trailer out there and Fleury is also going to send him the data because there are certain peaks throughout the day. He also mentioned he had included in the packet resolution 90-03 which is used when looking at the warrants for stop signs, yield signs and no parking zones. He would like to bring this back as a future agenda item because it is a bit outdated. He also added that he reached out and spoke to the City of Medford. They have a point system that they use to score intersections. He wanted to present their plan to the commission and have an overarching discussion on this and see about updating the resolution.
Ashland Street Speed Study
Fleury said he made the request to the State Traffic Engineers office to do the speed study and he asked them to look at lowering the speed from 35 mph to 30 mph all the way to Tolman Creek.
Bike Lane letter of support-ODOT
Fleury stated we now have a draft letter of support that will be brought back for the Chairís signature. This item was in regards to Gary Shaff who came to the September meeting and asked for a letter of support from the Transportation Commission.
Audible Pedestrian Signals
Fleury stated all eight new buttons that were ordered have arrived and now he will need to get with Dan Dorrell and the ODOT electric crew to do the installations.
Kampmann asked if the volume on the audible pedestrian signals can be lowered. Fleury said the volume can be lowered but the volume is designed to articulate to the background noise. He added there have been complaints at the corner of Walker and Ashland Street and ODOT went out and adjusted the volume on it which we can do at other locations if necessary.
Traffic Crash Summary
The commission had some questions regarding the traffic crash summary for September and why some of them were not cited. Officer MacLennan provided additional background information regarding those incidents that were brought up.
Oregon Impact October Newsletter
COMMISSION OPEN DISCUSSION
FUTURE AGENDA TOPICS
SOU Multi-Modal Future
Traffic Crash Summary PD letter
Kampmann thinks that we need to be addressing the situation on Siskiyou Boulevard in front of the University with all of the crosswalks and flashing lights. He would like to request a traffic study. Chair Young added this is the next step after the downtown parking and circulation plan is finished as a result of the TSP. Kampmann added that the intersection is getting so plugged up now that people are backed up half way to Walker. Fleury said he found out what one of the issues is while he was coming back from the Airport and waiting through two light cycles while making the right hand turn from Hwy 66 onto Siskiyou. What he found out is in ODOTís traffic cabinet controller they have a loop amplifier and they have been having problems with it which is causing the left turn off of Siskiyou onto Wightman to get an extra light cycle. ODOT is working on this particular issue; they have replaced that amplifier a couple of times and they are trying to remedy that. Fleury also added that the next issue is the progression of crosswalks there which the safety study is supposed to address and he believes SOU is also looking at that. Chair Young stated itís not so much the crosswalks causing that problem, itís that left turn arrow at Wightman is getting an extra cycle. Fleury said once we solve that amplifier problem that extra left hand turn cycle will go away. Kampmann reiterated that might be part of the problem but the big problem is that there is no coordination with those crosswalks. What is happening is there are times throughout the day where there is a constant flow of students crossing one right after another and it causes a backup. Graf pointed out that the issue is that they always have the right of way, once they enter the crosswalk traffic is supposed to stop for them. Kampmann mentioned that is why he had requested the agenda item ďpublic outreach/educationĒ to try to educate people.
Meeting adjourned at 8:15 pm
Tami De Mille-Campos, Administrative Assistant