It appears the long-awaited West A and North Line streets reconstruction project will come to fruition next summer, but the price tag will be $972,000 more than anticipated.

The Moscow City Council on Monday night agreed to fund the nearly $1 million amount — $875,850 in grant-eligible, increased street-related construction costs and $95,908 in nongrant-eligible, increased water and sewer construction costs. The costs will bring the total Moscow contribution to the project to $1.9 million, with the remaining cost covered by the $3.35 million in Local Highway Technical Assistance Council funds.

Construction bids opened last month and the lowest bid came in at $3.84 million, or $790,000 more than LHTAC’s estimate.

The city has already paid $2.2 million to LHTAC, including the city’s prior estimated local match of $943,299 and $1,264,000 in an advanced funding loan that was required to allow the project to be completed in one construction season since LHTAC’s available funding occurred within two separate fiscal years.

Of the $1,264,000 in advance funding the city provided to LHTAC, $1 million came from the city’s Sewer Capital Fund through interfund borrowing authorized by a city council resolution approved in late 2018.

As part of the same motion to approve the $972,000 funding for the project, the City Council also authorized a $1,025,000 funding program to redirect fiscal year 2020 funds to refund the Sewer Capital Fund with a 2.5 percent interest rate.

The funding sources include $434,000 identified for the Third Street corridor improvements; $100,000 in Moser Park accumulations; $388,150 in A Street project refunds; $50,000 from the sidewalk program; and $52,816 from the Pavement Management Program.

Councilor Art Bettge expressed his frustration Monday night with the engineers’ bid estimate.

“$800,000 is not a minor oopsie when it comes to the difference between the actual bids and what engineers projected, and I’m dismayed that the engineers cannot adapt themselves to the changing construction climate and actually provide us with accurate, or even approaching accurate, bid amounts so we aren’t taken by surprise like this,” he said.

Councilor Jim Boland said he is not happy about taking money from the Third Street improvements, but losing the project for another three decades was an option he was not willing to consider.

Councilor Brandy Sullivan said one of the consequences of not having the anticipated Third Street multimodal bridge installed is there is not a vehicular traffic increase, and therefore, the corridor safety improvements are not necessarily urgent.

The city had to notify LHTAC by today if it wished to proceed with the project and make the Oct. 15 LHTAC board meeting for the bid award. If awarded, construction will occur next summer.

Riedner said if the council decided to drop the project because of the high cost, the city would be reimbursed for all expenses, except for about $500,000 it would have to repay LHTAC for the federal grant funds that were utilized to purchase right of way and complete the construction design for the project. He said the council could have also asked to rebid the project, but Riedner said he would not expect better prices.

The A/Line streets project, which has been on the city of Moscow’s books for about 30 years, would reconstruct A Street from 350 feet east of Peterson Drive to 200 feet east of Home Street, and Line Street from West Pullman Road north through the current intersection with A Street/Circle Drive.

The project would widen A Street, lessen the A Street grade from West Pullman Road to Line Street, convert Circle Drive to a cul-de-sac, install sidewalks on both sides of A Street and water and sewer upgrades.

The overall objective of the project is to improve A Street so that it provides relief to traffic on West Pullman Road. The stop signs on the west and east sides of the A and Line streets intersection would be removed to allow for free-flowing traffic.

Garrett Cabeza can be reached at (208) 883-4631, or by email to gcabeza@dnews.com.

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