Takoma Park approves more money for Flower Avenue project design -- Gazette.Net


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The Takoma Park City Council agreed Monday to increase design costs of a project to upgrade sidewalks and stormwater infrastructure along Flower Avenue by about $177,000.

The project, estimated to cost about $2.3 million, is one of the more complex the city has undertaken in recent years and could see more cost overruns, especially when construction starts, Councilman Fred Schultz said.

“There are cost overruns already. There may be more to come,” Schultz said. “Lord only knows what we will find when we do serious excavation work. ... We need to be careful that we don’t cause serious injury to our capital budget.”

The design firm, Baltimore-based Rummel, Klepper and Kahl, requested the additional money, citing rising costs related to more coordination with utilities, expanded work for stormwater management and other changes. The original contract passed in 2012 was about $276,000 for the design.

Most of the increase will be covered with state funds, Daryl Braithwaite, Takoma Park’s public works director, said. She said she didn’t foresee additional cost increases for the design phase, but cost overruns are possible once construction began.

The project is along a one-mile stretch between Carroll Avenue and Piney Branch Road.

Washington Gas plans to replace a gas line along Flower Avenue and has committed to getting the work done before the fall of 2015, Braithwaite said. Construction by the city’s contractor is not expected until early- to mid-2016.

Washington Gas is replacing a vintage cast-iron pipe with more modern plastic piping, said Ruben Rodriguez, a spokesman for the utility. The project falls under the Strategic Infrastructure Development and Enhancement Program, a state initiative that allows gas utilities to accelerate the pace of infrastructure replacement, he said.

Last year, the city worked with the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission to coordinate the planned replacement of a water main along Flower Avenue.

Flower Avenue now has minimal stormwater infrastructure, with relatively few basins where rainwater can flow to be transported through underground pipes. Stormwater on the street mostly runs onto side streets or private property.

Traffic calming measures to improve pedestrian safety are another part of the project.

The council on Monday also approved changes to the fiscal 2015 budget. Those included $45,000 to pay for the salary and benefits of a part-time parking enforcement officer.

The council will be off for summer recess until Sept. 8.

kshay@gazette.net