Bray Construction wins first contract under Paris’ $45 million infrastructure bond issue

Less than 12 months after Paris residents approved an historic $45 million infrastructure bond issue, the Paris City Council on Monday awarded the first contract — replacement of decades-old asbestos concrete lines that supply water to Kimberly Clark, Turner Pipe and Next Era Energy.

From left, assembled informally in city council chambers Monday, were city clerk Janice Ellis and council members Cleonne  Drake, Sue Lancaster, Dr. Richard Grossnickle, Aaron Jenkins, Dr. AJ Hashmi and John Wright. (eParisExtra photo by Charles Richards)

From left, assembled informally in city council chambers Monday, were city clerk Janice Ellis and council members Cleonne
Drake, Sue Lancaster, Dr. Richard Grossnickle, Aaron Jenkins, Dr. AJ Hashmi and John Wright. (eParisExtra photo by Charles Richards)

In a meeting that lasted 15 minutes, the council voted unanimously to award the contract  to Barney Bray, owner of B. Bray Construction of Paris, whose bid of $1,867,769 was 4.2 percent below the bid of $1,949,370 by Pittard Construction Company of Allen.

Aecom, the city’s engineer for the bond issue, had estimated construction costs at $2 million.

“It’s really a great day in our history. It’s the first step in the big bond issue that we have undertaken, and I’m very happy that one of the local contractors has gotten the job. I have no doubt it will be done appropriately,” Mayor AJ Hashmi said.

“I’m very happy that the job was bid at lower than what was anticipated. It will give us about $150,000 extra to spend on other projects. Hopefully we are able to do bigger and better projects for the city, and this is just the beginning of it.”

The contract is for five water replacement projects in southwest Paris:

  • Southwest 19th Street, from the railroad tracks to the southwest loop;
  • Along the southwest loop, from Southwest 19th Street to Southwest 7th Street;
  • Southwest 7th Street, from Southwest Loop 286 north to Field Road;
  • Cross-country from Field Road to Southwest 13th Street, then north to West Washington Street;
  • Southeast 3rd, from the south loop to Church Street.

The five projects are among 15 “Tier 1″ projects at the top of a list of 89 infrastructure projects the council earmarked in October.

“All parts of the city are equally important, but I think it is important that southwest Paris is being paid attention to,” Hashmi said.

“There are maybe not as many homes in these five projects, but it serves a lot of industries in the area, and hopefully those areas that have felt they were neglected are not going to be neglected anymore,” he said.

The mayor said citizens will be watching this project closely because of a water line replacement job — not part of the infrastructure bond issue — that not only has failed to meet quality expectations but is two months overdue.

“It is very important that things we have learned in the recent past don’t happen and that this job is done in a fine way,” Hashmi said.

Shawn Napier, the city’s director of community development and engineering, noted that Bray is currently a subcontractor on another job for the city.

“I believe Barney has used 18 percent of his time and he has 33 percent of the work done. That tells you something right there,” Napier said.

Asked about projected start date and completion date for the project, Napier said it’s a 240-day contract.

“I think we’re talking about a start date of early to mid-May, which would take us somewhere just after the first of the year,” Napier said.

That’s more than adequate time, Bray told the council.

Napier said the next contract — second of five — in the bond issue will address water and sewer needs of several older west Paris neighborhoods and will probably be put out for bids in May.

That one will be about twice as large, Napier said, replacing about 50,000 linear feet of water and sewer lines. The contract just awarded is for replacement of about 23,000 linear feet of water line.

By Charles Richards, eParisExtra

 

Frierson: Council should not short-change streets in $45 million infrastructure work

City councilman Matt Frierson said one needs only to drive down Church Street to see why it’s a bad idea under the upcoming $45 million infrastructure bond program to spend all the money on water and sewer lines and nothing on streets.

This photo was taken Friday of Church Street near its intersection with Brame Street. (eParisExtra photo)

This is a photo taken Friday on Church Street near its intersection with Brame Street. (eParisExtra photo)

Members of the Paris City Council took turns last week expressing their dismay about the torn-up streets left by the ongoing $1.8 million replacement of 2.3 miles of corroded cast-iron water lines near downtown.

“Obviously, this hits close to home for me,” said Frierson, who lives on Church Street, where a contractor has been told to come back in and re-do the asphalt repair.

“This has been embarrassing,” Frierson said in a dialogue with city manager John Godwin and city engineer Shawn Napier.

“One of the areas we’ve been looking at involves asphalt repair. That’s not been done in a timely manner, and the asphalt repair that has been done has not been done to our satisfaction,” Napier agreed.

“With respect to the roadways that have been torn up — Church Street in particular, and I’ve also driven on Third Street — they’re disastrous. Is it going to continue to be this bad?” Frierson asked.

“When we get into this (bond) project, I’m for using this experience as an example of what will be to come. You know, we are agreed — or disagreed — about money from the bond being for street repair. But if you haven’t, you should go drive down Church Street right now and see what that may or may not look like,” Frierson said.

This is a look at Northeast 3rd Street, one block north of Lamar Avenue. (eParisExtra photo)

This is a look at Northeast 3rd Street, one block north of Lamar Avenue. (eParisExtra photo)

Mayor AJ Hashmi objected last June, when KSA Engineers came out with a priority list — 48 jobs at a cost of $45.5 million. KSA projected a cost of $9.6 million to replace water lines, $5.5 million to replace sewer lines and $30.3 million to lay down new roadway afterward.

That would take care of the city’s worst water and sewer problems, but spending only one-third of the the bond money on water and sewer line replacement would leave numerous Paris neighborhoods with no relief, the mayor said.

“We should use bond money for water and sewer — not streets — to make the bond money go as far as it can,” the mayor said after looking at the cost proposals.

Hashmi said the council should use money out of reserves, if necessary, to pay for streets. He suggested “patching” streets, rather than putting in brand new roads. A seven-person citizens’ advisory committee was told to re-direct its efforts to allocate bond money on replacement of water and sewer lines, not roadway.

“Aesthetically, what’s that going to look like?” Frierson asked during last Monday’s council meeting, considering the unacceptable streets left in the wake of the current infrastructure project.

This is Southeast 3rd Street, one block south of Clarksville Street. (eParisExtra photo)

This is Southeast 3rd Street, one block south of Clarksville Street. (eParisExtra photo)

“This has gone on way too long with no decent end in sight, at the expense of those on 3rd Street and Church Street in particular. To say that I am displeased by it is probably an enormous understatement.”

District 3 councilman John Wright weighed in.

“Although that’s not my district, I have a lot of friends that live in that area, and the complaints have been steadily coming in. If this is a learning curve, it must be longer than the rainbow,” Wright said.

District 2 councilwoman Sue Lancaster noted work being done on West Kaufman Street, in her district, and asked, “It’s not going to end up looking like Church Street, is it? As bad as Church Street looks, I don’t want any other streets looking this bad.”

District 6 councilwoman Cleonne Drake added: “My biggest question was how did this fall through the cracks for so long, and just some concerns that this does not happen when we get ready for the big project.”

McInnis Brothers Construction, Inc., of Minden, La., was the low bidder on the project, which is still in progress despite an agreement to have the work completed in January.

Two local firms also bid on the project. McInnis’ bid of $1,815,203 was 9.5 percent below the $2,008,320 bid of Barney Bray Construction Co. and 13.5 percent below the $2,097,887 bid of Harrison Walker Harper.

It turned out later, Napier said, that the winning bidder transposed two numbers “and left $40,000 or $50,000 on the table, so they were kind of behind the eight ball to start that project.”

The subcontractor actually performing the work has been Dual Construction, Inc., out of Texarkana, Ark., Napier said.

The city manager agreed with the council’s glum assessment of the project that is still in the process of winding down.

“I don’t have anything to add other than this was not, is not, a good project,” Godwin responded.

“It’s the sort of project that we can’t repeat. … I think there were those who accepted what I would consider poor quality work too easily, too readily.”

Napier said the replacement of corroded cast-iron water lines with new PVC pipe “is being done correctly … but aesthetically, it is not pleasing at all. It is far from that in a lot of areas.”

The asphalt work that has been done on streets afterward “has not been done to our satisfaction,” Napier said.

The contractor “is going to hire a local company to come back in and possibly remove a great majority of (the asphalt) and re-lay that … where it would be smooth and match the current edge of the pavement,” he said.

Another issue, Napier said, “is the general clean-up of the project. It has not been to our satisfaction. Among the things we have encountered are multiple piles of dirt up and down the project length. We’ve gotten a letter from one of the property owners and we have removed that dirt from the owner’s property. Right now, the contractor has someone on site who has been removing that dirt, and that is their fulltime job until it’s done.”

Some problems were experienced with work done by a boring contractor “who was not vetted very well,” Napier added.

By Charles Richards, eParisExtra

 

Barney Bray submits low bid on first contract of $45 million infrastructure bond program

SW Water Projects

The bold lines indicate the five water line replacement projects scheduled for imminent construction in southwest Paris.

Local contractor Barney Bray submitted the low bid for the first construction contract in the $45 million infrastructure bond issue approved by City of Paris voters last May.

City manager John Godwin

City manager John Godwin

The Paris City Council is scheduled to meet in a brief special session at 5:30 p.m. Monday to award the contract for five water line replacement projects in southwest Paris.

“These water lines supply large quantities of water to Kimberly Clark, Turner Pipe and Next Era Energy,” city manager John Godwin said in a memo to council members.

The city manager is recommending that the council award the contract to Bray, owner of B. Bray Construction, who submitted the lower of two bids that were opened Tuesday in city council chambers.

Bray’s bid was $1,867,769 — 4.2 percent below the bid of $1,949,370 by Pittard Construction Co. of Allen.

Aecom, the city’s engineer for the bond program, had estimated construction costs at $2 million for the five projects, the entirety of which has been designated “Contract A”:

  • Southwest 19th Street, from the railroad tracks to the southwest loop;
  • Along the southwest loop, from Southwest 19th Street to Southwest 7th Street;
  • Southwest 7th Street, from the southwest loop to Field Road;
  • Cross-country northwest from Field Road to Southwest 13th Street and West Washington Street;
  • Southeast 3rd, from the south loop to Church Street.

The five projects are among 15 “Tier 1″ projects at the top of a list of 89 infrastructure projects the council earmarked in October.

The list is a combination of projects recommended by KSA Engineers under a 10-year capital improvement plan, and projects suggested by City of Paris field staff, “who we believe know which projects are most needed,” Godwin says.

“It is our plan to begin construction in Spring 2014,” Godwin said in October.

Here is a list of other “Tier 1″ projects on the list, to be undertaken later as part of contracts B through E:

  • Pine Bluff, from Main Street to 20th Street (water and sewer);
  • East of Johnson Woods Drive, from Lamar Avenue to Mahaffey Street (sewer only);
  • Downtown Paris, from the Plaza one block south and three blocks in each of the three other directions (water and sewer);
  • Lamesa Heights Addition (water and sewer).
  • Southeast 33rd Street, from Lamar Avenue to Clarksville Street (water and sewer);
  • Southeast Loop 286, from Clarksville Street to Jefferson Heights (Big Sandy to FM 1507) (sewer only);
  • Carson Lane, from Southeast 28th Street to Johnson Woods Drive (sewer only);
  • West Houston Street, from Northwest 34th Street to the west loop (water and sewer);
  • Dawn Drive, from the east end of Dawn Drive to the Loop 286 crossover (sewer only);
  • Northwest 19th Street, grinder pumps (sewer only).

By Charles Richards,

 

Congressional candidate John Ratcliffe to speak at Republican meeting Thursday in Paris

John Ratcliffe

John Ratcliffe

John Ratcliffe, who faces U.S. Rep. Ralph Hall, R-Rockwall, in a May 27 runoff for the Republican nomination for the 4th Congressional District of Texas, will be in Paris on Thursday.

“I just learned he will be here for our April meeting of the Assocaition of Lamar County Republicans,” said Jimmie Kruntorad, vice president of the Association of Lamar County Republicans, who arranges for speakers and coordinates the organization’s programs.

The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. in the second-floor courtroom of the Lamar County Courthouse.

“The public is invited and encouraged to attend,” Kruntorad said.

By Charles Richards, eParisExtra

Paris’ unemployment rate drops from 10.0% to 7.6% over past year

labor force

The unemployment rate has dropped from 10.0 percent to 7.6 percent in Paris and from 8.5 percent to 7.0 percent in Lamar County over the past 12 months, according to the Texas Workforce Commission’s Workforce Solutions of Northeast Texas.

“It appears people are getting jobs,” said Steve Gilbert, former executive director of the Paris Economic Development Corporation.

“The city unemployment rate comparison is compelling. I’d like to think I had a small part in helping folks have access to job opportunities,” added Gilbert, who stepped down in January to become vice president of business development for the HWH Group in Paris.

By Charles Richards, eParisExtra