Bids for the sidewalk that is part of the Pine Street reconstruction project in Eagle River came in higher than expected, according to a report by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) to the City Council last week.

The project, slated for later this summer, will be from the Highway 45/70 intersection on the east side of  the city to Bridge Street — including a new sidewalk along the north side of the roadway.

Jed Peters of DOT’s Rhinelander office, said the bids received three weeks ago came in 27% over the estimate for the state project, including the sidewalk which will be partially funded by the city. 

The DOT-approved plan is to modify the present four- lane roadway to three lanes — one in each direction and a center turn lane.

“Concrete came in 40% above the estimate and the 2017 agreement with the city came in at $22,000 more than the estimated cost,” Peters said. “Real estate acquisition for the sidewalk on the north side was slightly less, about $5,000 lower than the estimate.”

The bottom line, Peters told the council, is the city cost share will increase  $16,000 to  $17,000.

The information provided showed the low bid for the new sidewalk was $319,187, while the DOT engineer’s estimate was $217,152, for an increase of $102,033 or  47%. The low bid for removing existing sidewalk was $4,014, while the DOT engineer’s estimate was $2,565, with the city paying 100% of the cost of this item.

Peters said the total city cost for participation in the project for all items, with low bids, is $29,432. The initial estimate had the city participation at $6,698, for an increase of 340%.

Councilman Jerry Burkett, noting the city has to abide by levy limits, asked about billing the city for its share next year, with Peters saying he believed the final bill will be in 2020 after an audit. 

Asked if the city could just say “no,” Peters indicated the DOT has never had a municipality back out of a project once approved.

The city council approved absorbing the $16,000 to $17,000 increase for the city’s share of the project, subject to the audit.

Pitlik & Wick Inc. was the successful bidder and has 40 working days to finish the job, starting after July Fourth and finishing prior to Cranberry Fest. 

That prompted council member Kim Schaffer to suggest to Peters, “Don’t be driving through town in a DOT vehicle during Cranberry Fest.”

Asked what would happen if the three-lane road proposal doesn’t work as hoped concerning traffic flow, Peters said the road width isn’t changing so the DOT would simply repaint the travel lanes back to a four-lane roadway with two lanes of traffic in each direction.

Peters said the primary objective of the project is to improve and maintain the pavement, and to improve safety needs. Peters said the four-lane roadway does not address the following:

— 82 crashes from 2007-’11 (at least 10 injuries associated with these crashes);

— one fatal pedestrian crash in 2013; and

— locally identified speeding concerns.

The project will include milling and grinding the existing pavement, paving and installing pavement markings with the new configuration. 

Peters said the alternative selected, with three lanes (one in each direction and one center turn lane) for  Pine Street, will provide wider paved shoulders, help control speeding, and create greater separation between pedestrians and vehicular traffic. He said the design will increase safety by reducing driver confusion (regarding turning vehicles).