Crews work on a gas line Tuesday at the intersection of Verda Lane and Chemawa Road, in advance of the roundabout. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)

Crews work on a gas line Tuesday at the intersection of Verda Lane and Chemawa Road, in advance of the roundabout. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

Like it or not, a roundabout is one step closer to coming at Chemawa Road and Verda Lane.

Bids for the project were opened last week by Oregon Department of Transportation officials. The project is expected to start next summer, having been delayed a couple of times.

Bill Lawyer, Public Works director for Keizer, said the project is on schedule.

“It’s on track,” Lawyer said last week. “Prep work is being done now. First it was the phone company contractor, then last week it was the gas company. They are moving lines.”

Construction bids for the project were opened last Thursday, November 19.

According to ODOT figures, 10 bids were submitted for the project. The low bid of $838,731.60 was submitted by North Santiam Paving Co. of Lyons. The next lowest bid was $867,725.63 by R&R General Contractors Inc. of Salem.

Of the 10 bids, six were less than $1 million. The highest bid was $1,173,163.15 submitted by 3 Kings Environmental Inc. of Battle Ground, Wash.

Keizer City Manager Chris Eppley noted the low bid is about $140,000 under the engineer’s estimate for the construction phase of the project. That figure does not include other phases such as engineering and right-of-way acquisition.

“The bidding contractor is a solid company, so this is all good news,” Eppley said in an e-mail last week.

Lee Cronemiller, Region 2 Area 3 Local Agency liaison for ODOT, emphasized the bid has not been awarded yet.

“Please keep in mind that these results are preliminary only and that the notice of intent to award has not been issued yet,” Cronemiller said on Monday. “There was excellent competition with the low bid coming in below the engineer’s estimate.”

While underground infrastructure and moving of lines continued this week, above ground work around the intersection of Chemawa and Verda will be done next year.

“Unless approved otherwise, trees conflicting with the work will be removed sometime in February, prior to the March 1 start of the migratory bird nesting season,” Cronemiller said. “The fences will be dealt with during the course of construction, estimated to start June 1 or shortly thereafter.”

Per statute and specification, ODOT awards contracts within 30 days of bid opening. After the decision has been made to award the contract to the lowest responsible bidder, ODOT staff must determine the bidder in question meets certain criteria, including having a satisfactory record of performance and integrity, available resources and is legally qualified to do the work.

The roundabout, a source of controversy since being announced, was originally going to be constructed in the summer of 2014. The approximately $2 million project was brought up due to long lines on Chemawa during peak traffic times in the morning and evening.

The roundabout was then going to be built this past summer, but in February the project got delayed another year. At that time, the Nov. 19 bid opening date was set.

Construction is expected to last about three months. Depending on when the work starts next summer, it could be completed before the 2016-17 school year begins.