By Brett Yates
On March 17, the Pittsfield Select Board accepted a bid by G&N Excavation to construct a new municipal sand shed at a cost of $340,678. Pittsfield will use the shed for the storage of sand and salt for winter road maintenance.
No other company responded to the town’s public tender, which Pittsfield sent to the Vermont Agency of Transportation’s (VTrans) list of “prequalified” contractors on Feb. 9, with a March 9 deadline. Before reviewing the bid, the consultancy firm DuBois & King, which Pittsfield had hired in 2019 to provide engineering services for the project, estimated that the construction would cost $303,345.
Despite the larger-than-expected price tag, Select Board Chair Ann Kuendig found, upon examination of the itemized bid, that G&N’s prices for most of the job’s components matched or even fell below the engineers’ estimates. “Where the bid exceeded was on lumber and cement,” she observed. “Those are the inflated prices for any kind of construction these days.”
“Blame the pandemic,” Selectman AJ Ruben replied.
Aiming for a speedy process, the board agreed to hire DuBois & King as the construction inspector in the same meeting, approving the firm’s $49,000 “pre-quote” without issuing an additional request for bids. The town expects a completed sand shed by Aug. 31.
G&N’s bid all but ensures that the total cost of the project will exceed the most recent estimate of $431,000, given that DuBois & King’s initial contract cost $43,858, while the Two Rivers Ottauquechee Regional Commission projected in 2019 that it would bill the town between $21,771 and $26,076 for its role as the municipal project manager, according to select board minutes. Together, the four contracts suggest a minimum cost of $455,307.
VTrans grants will pay for a larger portion of the sand shed than municipal tax dollars (or, potentially, ARPA money) will, as the state agency awarded $281,000 and $56,000 in federal funds to Pittsfield for its sake in 2018 and 2021, respectively, with the possibility of more to come. Even so, the growing expense of the planned facility — a project that began with a $100,000 estimate for a repair to Pittsfield’s existing sand shed in 2007 — has frustrated town officials.
Construction will begin with the demolition of the old shed at the same site on Route 100.