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Hudson bridge project on hold for at least another year

Union Leader Correspondent

July 09. 2014 9:47PM

HUDSON — Construction on a bridge to replace the Pelham Road dam has been postponed for at least another year, town officials said this week.

During Tuesday night’s Hudson Board of Selectmen meeting, the board voted unanimously to reject the sole project bid they’d received, which came in about $300,000 higher than expected.

The bidding period closed June 23, according to Town Engineer Laurie Stevens. Stevens urged selectmen to hold off on the project for another season in hopes more contractors would submit bids the next time around.

“We think the prices could come in a little better, if we had a jump on next year’s construction season,” Stevens said on Tuesday.

With the board’s blessings, the plan now is to reopen bids sometime in November, when contractors are in the process of filling their calendars for the following summer season.

Town officials said the dam would need to be built during the late summer months to work within the lowest water flow season.

Last year, the town of Hudson began developing plans to replace the dam with a bridge after the state Department of Environmental Services classified it as hazardous.

Owned by the town, the Pelham Road culvert is a roadway that doubles as a dam. Following a state inspection in Spring 2013, Jim Gallagher, DES Bureau Chief of Dam Services, informed the town that the culvert was unsafe because of its insufficient water discharge capacity.

Gallagher said the overlapping road wasn’t strong enough to handle the flow of a strong flood passing over it.

In response, the town of Hudson enrolled in a state bridge program, and as it stands, the town is eligible to receive grant funds totaling 80 percent of the project’s final costs.

Initial project estimates came in at $580,000, which is about $300,000 lower than the bid the town received last month from Northeast Earth Mechanics, an excavation contracting firm out of Pittsfield.

“Because this price came in much higher than we’d anticipated and we only heard from one bidder, it’s definitely more prudent to wait and bid again,” Hudson Town Administrator Steve Malizia said this week.

Selectman Rick Maddox said he took issue with the large gap between the initial project estimate and the price quoted by Northeast Earth Mechanics.

“We paid our consulting engineers to give us an estimate and they were off by $300K,” he said. “So I’m now having a tough time with this.”

Malizia warned that if the next rounds of bids come in at similarly high costs and the town doesn’t have enough funds to cover its 20 percent of the project, “we could have to put in on the next ballot.”

Stevens said the town has reached out to other area contractors, several of which had initially expressed interest but did not put out bids, to ask them their thoughts.

“We learned that some aspects of this project will be difficult,” she said.

For instance, some of the rock on this site will have to be hammered instead of blasted, while copper pipes instead of plastic ones would be needed to address the often heavy water flow.

Environment Public Safety Transportation Hudson