Plans this year by the District of Houston for the next phase of its downtown improvement plan have been stalled because it can’t find a contractor to do the work.
Just one company, Terus Construction, responded to a request for proposals in February and even then said it would not be in a position to do the work until next year.
That’s not only left the $2.1 million project to rejuvenate 10th St. in the downtown core in limbo for this year but could cause problems for the District because a federal grant it received to finance about one-third of the work — $656,250 — has to be spent by March 31 of next year.
So now the District council has authorized three measures aimed at finding solutions for next year.
The first is to once again request expressions of interest from qualified contractors.
It’s also contacting the federal agency in charge of the program that provided the grant to see if the spending deadline can be extended past March 31, 2023.
And the council has also directed staffers to work with that agency to reasonably determine how much of the $656,250 could be spent prior to the March 31, 2023 deadline.
Approval by council for the above measures came via debate and then motions at council’s June 21 meeting.
District of Houston chief administrative officer Michael Dewar said the District understands Terus did not have the capacity to do the work this year and that because of a significant demand for construction services, many companies cannot undertake more than what they had already agreed.
““It is unfortunate that the District could not secure a contractor to proceed with the next phase of our downtown revitalization project this year,” said Dewar.
“However, we are optimistic that we are well positioned to move forward with revitalization of 10th street in 2023. Completion of this phase of the project will be another important milestone in Council’s continued efforts for community beautification.”
The 10th St. plan builds off of the 9th St. modernization of below ground and above ground improvements, a project that was begun in 2020 and completed last year.
Replacing water and sewer lines underneath the ground, storm sewer upgrades, reconstructing the road surface, replacing sidewalks and adding landscaping on 10th from Poulton to Butler essentially replicates what was done to 9th.
The federal grant received by the District was the third application it had made to a senior government. Two others were denied last year.
The 10th St. work cost has been tagged at $2.1 million — $656,250 from that grant, $1.282 million that’s part a major provincial grant received in 2019 and 2020 for capital projects, $204,300 from the District’s water reserve and $84,500 from the District’s sewer reserve.
This not the first project this year to challenge the District of Houston in either finding contractors or dealing with rising inflationary pressures.
This spring, in response to having to spend more on its road works program this year than first calculated, council authorized taking money from what the budget it had planned to spend next year so that the planned work could be completed.
The District of Houston is not alone among northwestern local governments in finding contractors or in dealing with inflation.
The City of Terrace has cancelled two projects to rebuild two residential streets this year, work that was estimated at nearly $2 million, because no one bid on the work.