Bud­get jumps $5M for walk­a­ble street

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Jon Mur­ray

Den­ver is pre­par­ing to shell out $5 mil­lion more for a mar­quee project that will over­haul Brighton Boule­vard, turn­ing it into a walk­a­ble street through the bur­geon­ing area branded as River North.

The bud­get in­crease was dis­closed Tues­day when of­fi­cials asked a City Coun­cil com­mit­tee to ad­vance a pro­posal autho­riz­ing the trans­fer of that amount from the city’s gen­eral fund con­tin­gency ac­count. That will put the to­tal project bud­get at $41 mil­lion, said Anna Jones, who heads the city’s North Den­ver Cor­ner­stone Col­lab­o­ra­tive of­fice, which is over­see­ing the project.

The new in­crease is on top of $2.5 mil­lion al­ready added for the project in the cap­i­tal im­prove­ments por­tion of the city’s re­cently ap­proved 2017 bud­get.

City of­fi­cials blame sev­eral fac­tors: a re­cent es­ca­la­tion in con­struc­tion costs, an of­fer by a con­trac­tor to speed up con­struc­tion of part of the project by a year and an ex­pan­sion of the scope af­ter sev­eral de­vel­op­ers along Brighton agreed to give up more right-of-way for street and side­walk im­prove­ments. Jones said the last fac­tor, which added $2.5 mil­lion, gave the city a chance to take ad­van­tage of op­por­tu­ni­ties that will im­prove the project.

The Fi­nance and Govern­ment Com­mit­tee sent the pro­posal to the full coun­cil for con­sid­er­a­tion in com­ing weeks af­ter its mem­bers scru­ti­nized the bud­get change.

“We still have eaten up ev­ery bit of con­tin­gency, the sav­ings (pro­posed by con­trac­tors) and now we’re ask­ing for more. Is this go­ing to stop?” Coun­cil­man Rafael Espinoza asked.

City bud­get di­rec­tor Stephanie Adams and other of­fi­cials de­fended the changes. They ex­pressed more con­fi­dence in the es­ti­mates now that they have fi­nal­ized the project’s scope.

Kiewit In­fra­struc­ture, the con­trac­tor on the first of two phases of the project, broke ground in Oc­to­ber. Both phases call for in­stalling side­walks, pro­tected bike lanes, street lights, up­graded sig­nals and street park­ing along Brighton — now a road through a for­mer in­dus­trial zone — be­tween 29th and 44th streets, with Kiewit’s por­tion done by early 2018.

The project in­cludes $3.5 mil­lion pro­vided by Den­ver Wa­ter to re­place an ag­ing wa­ter line through that stretch, ac­cord­ing to a meet­ing pre­sen­ta­tion. And busi­nesses and prop­erty own­ers in the area agreed to tax them­selves and are kick­ing in $2.8 mil­lion for project en­hance­ments.

The city is still work­ing out plans for im­prove­ments to Brighton north of 44th, along the edge of the Na­tional Western Cen­ter project.

Kiewit also has an over­ar­ch­ing man­age­ment con­tract to over­see the Brighton Boule­vard project as well as other streets projects and a ma­jor storm sewer plan in the area.

Un­der the terms of that con­tract, Kiewit has to so­licit com­pet­ing bids for each com­po­nent. The city se­lected Kiewit for the first phase of the Brighton project, of­fi­cials told the coun­cil com­mit­tee, and it plans to award the sec­ond phase to Ames Con­struc­tion. Ames also won a bid for part of the Globeville Land­ing Out­fall storm sewer project.

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