CALEXICO — Seven cost overruns later and nearly a year after Cesar Chavez Boulevard re-opened to traffic following an exhaustive expansion and rehabilitation project, an eighth cost change was being requested tied to a final piece of the construction puzzle said to get underway June 8.
The Calexico City Council was being asked to approve an eighth change order for contractor Pyramid Construction and Aggregate Inc. in the amount of $99,450 for work associated with the railroad crossing at Grant Street and Cesar Chavez by Union Pacific Railroad.
After months of delays, Union Pacific is supposed to begin work on the railroad crossing June 8, delays that held up the completion of other final work by Pyramid, according to a report to the council by Lilliana Falomir, Public Works Department manager.
Union Pacific Railroad needs to remove the existing railroad crossing surface and replace with 80-foot panels, including rails and ties, at Grant and Cesar Chavez. Originally, Union Pacific was supposed to do the work in early 2020, but more delays ensued. Now, according to Falomir’s report, Union Pacific will be ready to do the work June 8.
As a result, Pyramid will have to come back in and do both temporary work while Union Pacific completes its part of the project, and some permanent road work in the area at an added cost of $99,450.
With the eighth change order, the total cost of the Cesar Chavez Boulevard expansion project will be $7.495 million, nearly $1.5 million over the original project price tag. The added cost will be covered by voter-approved Measure D half-cent sales-tax funds, which have been used to cover all the cost overruns thus far, none of which have impacted the general fund, officials say.
The Cesar Chavez Boulevard improvement project expanded the street to four lanes from Highway 98/Birch Street to Second Street/West Port of Entry. Opened to traffic at the end of June, the Cesar Chavez improvements were mostly funded by federal grant dollars so the expanded thoroughfare could be used as the primary path to enter Mexicali through the west port just south of Second Street, which replaced Imperial Avenue/Highway 111 and the old downtown port near First Street as the main entry point south.
In August 2018, the council awarded Pyramid the construction contract when its bid came in at $6.022 million. The project received a federal grant through the state Department of Transportation for $7,104,240 ($5.5 million in federal funding and a local match of $1.604 million).
“We had several delays due to (circumstances) out of our control,” Calexico City Manager David Dale said in November 2019, when the seventh change order came to the council. “There were utilities that didn’t respond, the railroad, people stealing stuff from the project, which caused delays and cost the contractor additional money.”
But some of the delays and cost overruns were caused by the city, Dale explained at the time. With a project designed in 2010, he said there were bound to be changes, including declining road conditions and different priorities from the current council and staff.
Fortunately, Dale said, “the bid came in low enough that we could add great things to it, and that’s what we did.”
Council to Award Pipeline Project Bid
The Calexico council was being asked to award a $1.275 million contract to A&R Construction of Brawley to install a new 8-inch water pipeline along Second Street from Blair to Andrade avenues and 8-inch water main pipelines along Dool and Beach avenues between Second and Seventh streets.
The project includes connecting existing water services and fire hydrants to the new water main pipelines, according to a report to the council by Falomir.
The project went out to bid March 2 and the city received four qualifying bids April 30.
In addition to A&R, which had the lowest responsible bid, the city got qualifying bids back from Pyramid Construction at $1.9 million, Rove Engineering Inc. at $2.18 million and Granite Construction Co. at $2.32 million.
The cost of the project was already part of the capital improvement program funds in the current year’s budget and comes entirely from Water Enterprise Funds that were set aside for the work, according to Falomir.
Workers’ Comp Training Program on Table
To reduce workplace illnesses and injuries, the city is asking the council to approve a training and consultation package with Fernando Ruiz & Associates of El Centro.
The City Council on June 3 was being asked to approve a professional services agreement on behalf of the Human Resources Department for a monthly retainer fee of $2,785 and a one-time risk management services training of $35,000.
Services provided by Ruiz & Associates will provide preventative training, access to guides and materials, and consultation and assistance with creating new policies and procedures, according to a report to council prepared by Falomir and Denise Garcia, human resources manager. Job site inspections and “tailgate” meetings are also included in the costs.
The staff report states Ruiz & Associates already works with several local cities and is currently working with Calexico’s Public Works Department supervisors and is drafting the city’s COVID-19 policies required by the state Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal OSHA).
Watch the Calexico Council Meeting Online
Livestreamed June 3, the recorded Calexico City Council meeting will be available to watch online on the city’s website on June 4 on calexico.thepublicspectrum.org/ and as well as the city’s Facebook page.