The council will meet this week at Town Hall and hear recommendations from the undergrounding task force.
Two firms have agreed to install phase one of the town-wide burial of overhead utility lines for a total of $10.4 million — about $500,000 less than a town consultant projected.
Hearing the news, the Underground Utilities Task Force unanimously is recommending the Town Council launch phase one at its meeting Tuesday. Construction could begin this summer and take about 18 months to complete, officials have said.
Burkhardt Construction is offering a guaranteed maximum price of nearly $4.1 million to be construction manager for the north segment of phase one, between Onondaga Avenue and the Palm Beach Inlet.
Whiting-Turner Contracting’s guaranteed offer is $6.3 million as construction manager for the South segment between Sloan’s Curve and the south town limit.
The prices include bids from subcontractors, payments to the utility companies for equipment for the new system, and a total contingency of $445,000, according to Kevin Schanen, vice president of Kimley-Horn and Associates, the town’s engineering consultant.
The prices include a binding cost submitted by Florida Power & Light. AT&T and Comcast did not submit final costs for the phone and cable television equipment, so those costs were estimated based on available information, he said.
Design and legal fees also are not included in the prices, but those costs are below budget, Schanen said.
Within the two segments of phase one are 6.5 miles of overhead pole lines that will be taken down and replaced with buried power, cable and phone lines.
Kimley-Horn has nearly completed a master plan for the town-wide project. In all, 45 miles of pole lines are to be replaced, which is expected to take about nine years. The town says the buried system will be safer, more reliable and aesthetically superior to the overhead one.
Kimley-Horn estimated the cost of phase one at $10.9 million, including nearly $7 million for the south segment and nearly $4 million for the north segment. Burkhardt’s price for the north segment was $115,000 higher; Whiting-Turner’s price for the south segment was $659,000 less.
“You did an excellent job” estimating the costs, task force Chairman Jeff Smith told Schanen.
Also Friday, the utilities board voted 5-0 to recommend Citigroup Global Markets’ proposal for interim financing to cover costs in the early years of the town-wide project. Citigroup’s was chosen over proposals from SunTrust Bank and Wells Fargo Bank.
The town plans to issue bonds to pay for the bulk of the town-wide project. Voters in a March 2016 referendum approved up to $90 million in bonds, to be paid over 30 years through special property assessments. The ballot language, and therefore the validity of the referendum, has been challenged in two separate lawsuits filed by town residents, and Town Attorney John Randolph has recommended the town use alternative financing until the lawsuits are resolved.
One lawsuit, by resident Arthur Goldmacher, was dismissed on Monday by Palm Beach County Circuit Court Judge Cymonie Rowe. Goldmacher’s attorney, John Jorgensen, said that Goldmacher will appeal the ruling to Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal. The other lawsuit, by resident Carol Kosberg, has not been heard by Rowe.
Board Vice Chairman Donald Gulbrandsen and members Nicki McDonald and Thomas Parker were absent from Friday’s meeting.
Palm Beach Daily News
By William Kelly