Fairhope approves new signals, turn lanes at Gayfer, 98

By GUY BUSBY
Government Editor
guy@gulfcoastmedia.com
Posted 7/20/22

FAIRHOPE — Work should begin soon on long-awaited new traffic signals and turn lanes at Gayfer Avenue and U.S. 98, following action by the Fairhope City Council.

The council voted Monday, …

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Fairhope approves new signals, turn lanes at Gayfer, 98

Posted

FAIRHOPE — Work should begin soon on long-awaited new traffic signals and turn lanes at Gayfer Avenue and U.S. 98, following action by the Fairhope City Council.

The council voted Monday, July 11, to accept the one bid on the project and award the contract to McElhenney Construction for $549,737.

Richard Johnson, Fairhope public works director, said the cost of the project will be paid with money from the Eastern Shore Metropolitan Planning Organization. Johnson said the project had gone out for bid once before, but the city had to go through the process again due to an error in the legal advertisement for the work.

"The second time's a charm," Johnson said. "We had to rebid that due to some issues with our advertisement, and I will tell you that we ended up with a sole bidder after having five participants in the pre-bid."

Johnson said McIlhenny was the prior bidder and that there was a 5% increase in the cost.

The Eastern Shore MPO, which includes members from the cities of Fairhope, Daphne, Spanish Fort and Loxley, two county commissioners and the Alabama Department of Transportation, oversees the distribution of some federal highway funds in the Eastern Shore area of Baldwin County.

Johnson said that while the bid received the second time was more than the submission made earlier this year, any more delays could result in an even more expensive project as costs increase.

"It is within the MPO budget and within the match budget that we have on the books, and we are recommending that we move forward because our fear is that if we reject and re-advertise, we many end up in the same spot at another 5% increase," Johnson said.

Also at the July 11 meeting, the council approved paying engineering costs for a planned traffic circle at the intersection of Baldwin County 13 and Baldwin County 44, also known as Twin Beech Road. Johnson said that while that work is a Baldwin County project, the city must pay to design the project and then be paid back by the county.

"The roundabout at County Road 13 and 44, Twin Beech, is a county project, and their funds do include 100% of the cost of the utility relocates as well as the engineering, but the engineering has to be a line item that they submit as part of the project," Johnson said. "So, what they're asking for us to do is to execute these agreements. We will get billed by the engineer, and we will then turn around and get 100% of our money back from the county. For some reason, the Highway Safety Improvement and other federal programs do not allow the county to direct pay for engineering costs."

The traffic circle is one of several being built or planned on the Eastern Shore.

Councilman Jack Burrell said some residents have complained about the length of time that one roundabout has closed Baldwin County 32 near the Fairhope Airport.

"The roundabout at 13 and 32, are they planning on finishing that this millennium?" Burrell asked Johnson.

Mayor Sherry Sullivan said that project is on schedule and should be completed by fall.

"They are on schedule to finish that in October," Sullivan said. "It may be a few weeks earlier, but they think it's going to be October for sure. They have had a few days because of rain that they've not worked, but they're pushing through and that's been the scheduled completion date, October."

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