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City council

Mayor Jim Bulkley, right, issues a thumbs up while chatting with Columbus City Council President Charlie Bahr leading up to a January meeting. Bulkley gave the annual State of City speech to those in attendance, highlighting some of the major successes of 2018. The Columbus City Council talked about the 12th Avenue Viaduct project on Monday night.

The Columbus City Council during its Monday evening meeting checked off another box regarding moving forward with 12th Avenue Viaduct construction.

The governing body unanimously approved an agreement with Omaha-based HDR Engineering Inc. for construction engineering expenses slated to not exceed $1,356,802.52 for the project in its entirety. Ward 4 Council Member Prent Roth was not in attendance.

“HDR is our engineering firm for handling construction on the (12th Avenue) viaduct and they have been on board with us from the beginning,” Mayor Jim Bulkley said. “They have helped with the design and the legwork and this is basically their payment for the work done to get it to a point where we can actually go ahead and start the construction."

The 12th Avenue project was scheduled to begin in late spring but was delayed by a few circumstances – predominately unforeseen adverse weather conditions.

“We had hoped to see a little bit of work happening in May – even if it was right at the end of May,” Bulkley said. “But with the rain and with the commitment of so many (companies) working on cleanup from the flood around the state, it has just put a little pinch on that …

“So we are a little later getting started but we are in fine shape to get going.”

The mayor noted that the action taken Monday will result in the City of Columbus being billed incrementally up to the approximately $1.35 million engineering expense price tag. Working with HDR has proven in the past to be a good investment for the city, he said.

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“We have a great track record with HDR on past projects,” Bulkley said. “It’s just been a great working relationship with that group.”

The 12th Avenue project is expected to be completed in 18 to 24 months once construction gets underway. The council in February named Omaha-based Hawkins Construction Company as project contractor. The firm came in with the low project bid of $10,908,062.47 and was unanimously approved by the council.

The project is being 80 percent funded through the Nebraska Department of Roads and Federal Highway Administration, 10 percent by Union Pacific Railroad and 10 percent by the City of Columbus.

City Engineer Rick Bogus – when a question was raised by Council President Charlie Bahr – noted that the engineering fee being footed by the city for this project is comparable to what was paid for the Third Avenue Viaduct undertaking.

“I looked that up and it’s actually very equivalent,” Bogus said. “… All of these go through a process with the (Nebraska) Department of Transportation. They work out the hours and the hourly rates, so they would be equivalent, and they are.”

Sam Pimper is the news editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at sam.pimper@lee.net.

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News Editor

Sam Pimper is the news editor of The Columbus Telegram, Schuyler Sun and The Banner-Press newspapers. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2015.

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