MANCHESTER - The Town of Manchester has received two bids for the Roundabout project, which is expected to begin on May 1.

Markowski Excavating Inc. - a firm located in Florence, Vt. - came in with a bid of $5,267,048.89. The other bid was from W.M. Schultz Construction - a firm based in Ballston Spa, N.Y. - and came in at $4,706,029.50.

Public Information Officer for the Roundabout Project, Tricia Hayes, said it would be about three weeks before the town awarded the contract. Additionally, Hayes said that the town could not officially set the date that they would break ground on the project until the contract had been awarded. The project engineer with Stantec Consulting, Todd Duguay, said it appeared that all the necessary documents were present and that Stantec would probably have the analysis of the bids within a week.

John O’Keefe, Manchester’s town manager, opens the first of two bids submitted by two construction companies seeking the contract to build the
John O'Keefe, Manchester's town manager, opens the first of two bids submitted by two construction companies seeking the contract to build the town's new Roundabout. (Andrew McKeever Photo)

"[We'll be looking through them] line by line, making sure everything is in there," Duguay said. "It did look like they did have their 5 percent bid bond which is a federal requirement. So, we're going to analyze the bid(s) and the apparent low bidder generally is chosen."

While Duguay said the low bidder is generally chosen, Manchester Town Manager John O'Keefe said there were other factors involved as well. "Part of it is going to be how long they're going to be out there too," O'Keefe said. "I think there's different opinions, and different contractors and different engineers, on how long it's going to take to do this project and that would be a huge driving force."

After Stantec finishes with their analysis, Duguay said the bids will be passed on to the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans).

Duguay indicated that the sizable difference between the two bids - a sum of $561,019.39 - was due to how the contractors judged nightwork and what kind of premium to charge the town for it.

O'Keefe said he believed one of the reasons that only two firms submitted a bid for the project was due to geography as many of the other firms were located in South Burlington or the Williston area. Additionally, another deterrent for some of the companies may have been the requirement that all equipment had to be cleaned up at the end of each work day.

The last point was a critical point, O'Keefe said.

"From the town's perspective if those were the bidders that we lost, the ones who didn't want to clean up every day, then hopefully this is a good match, whatever bidder we select in the end. But that is a key element in Manchester. It can't be a dustbowl everyday," he said.

O'Keefe said that the fact that the town now has a price for the project should be a very clear signal that project is moving forward, but he believed that it may not truly hit home until people see equipment on the street.

The Roundabout will reconfigure the present intersection of Main Street and Depot Street, replacing the existing blinking traffic light with a traffic rotary. A second and smaller rotary is planned for the nearby intersection of Bonnet Street and Main Street, according to the plans displayed at an open house held by town officials last Thursday at the town hall.

The project - which will include other aspects such as new sidewalks, new historically-flavored street lighting, and the backlotting and burial of utility wires underground - will result in the reinvention, or a renaissance, of the downtown, O'Keefe said.

"This coming year is really going to be a transformation when you're in town. The roundabout will totally streetscape all of downtown Manchester," he said. "It will be the project that when you drive through a town and say 'Wow this is a nice looking downtown,' it will be that downtown."