Plant expected to open in 2014
city staff said the project was divided into 13 subprojects, partly to get the endeavor moving and take advantage of postrecession pricing without waiting for the design to be finished. The subprojects were designed and bid over several years. A price guarantee kicked in only once the final contract was signed.
Public Works Director Howard Lazarus said last month that when the council approved that approach in 2009, the project was 20 percent designed — and that projects at that stage typically finish anywhere from 15 percent below budget to 30 percent over budget.
Tovo noted that activists had warned that the estimated price tag was too low to carry out necessary environmental protec- tions, and that costs would rise as those protections were put in place.
Austin Water Utility Director Greg Meszaros said that when the city was considering changes to a major water line associated with the project he told council members the change could add $50 million to the cost. The staff didn’t pursue the idea.
The plant is expected to open in 2014. As other costs of the project have come in higher than expected, city staff has cut parts of the project deemed non-essential and in some cases have found ways to do the work more efficiently.
If all of the work originally planned were carried out, it would cost $60 million above the $508 million budget.
City management cut portions of the project that won’t be needed for many years, but will add them later.
Leffingwell noted that costs are less than 1 percent off initial projections.
“That to me is remarkable with a project this big, half a billion dollars,” Leffingwell said. At its Thursday meeting, the Austin City Council: Changed name of Arena Drive to Shoreline Drive. Approved spending up to $6.8 million to renovate AustinBergstrom International Airport’s terminal.
Repealed a 1960s-era ordinance setting speed limits for ambulances.
Approved up to $75,000 for the salary of a project coordinator for the Waller Creek Conservancy.
Authorized Austin police to reimburse Austin schools up to $12,000 for gang prevention and intervention training.
Decided to apply for up to $382,000 from the Texas Department ofTransportation for the first phase of a project to build a sidewalk and pedestrian bridge on the west side of Decker Lane, from Loyola to Daffan lanes.
DecidedtopaytheUniversityofNorthTexasupto$645,000 tocontinuedoingnative-plantrestorationalongLakeAustinand LadyBirdLake.
Directed the city manager to conduct a follow-up report on the city’s efforts to relieve the backlog in its permit-review department.
Postponed toJan.17 consideration ofa pilot program allowing 24-houruse ofthe ButlerHike and BikeTrail around Lake Bird Lake,the Shoal CreekTrail and theJohnson CreekTrail.
Set a Dec. 13 hearing to consider allowing Wheatsville Food Co-Op to sell alcoholic beverages despite a city prohibition against selling it within 300 feet of a public school.
Gave preliminary approval to rezone 300 E. Fifth St. to accommodate a 300-room upscale hotel.