TRAVERSE CITY — Planners for the Boardman Lake Trail’s long-sought missing link are ready to get more bids, six months after the first try proved disappointing.
Traverse City Assistant Manager Penny Hill will tell city commissioners on Monday about changes made to the project aimed at cutting costs. She’s hoping the changes, plus seeking bids earlier in the year and giving contractors more time to build will make the difference.
The first round of bids proved unworkable, with contractors offering to build the trail’s first phase from 14th Street’s east end to Northwest Michigan College’s University Center for more than $1 million over cost estimates, as previously reported.
Hill said the biggest change to plans calls for a smaller retaining wall between the trail and a rail line along the lake’s southwest shore — it’s seldom used but considered active.
“So we have worked to minimize that as much as possible, and we think that we’ll have a lot more competitive bids by doing an April letting and by having a bit longer construction period,” she said.
The city is working with Traverse Area Recreation and Transportation Trails, Garfield Township and Grand Traverse County to link a path that already stretches from Medalie Park at Boardman Lake’s south end counter-clockwise to 14th Street, as previously reported.
Partners are working to build the last quarter for $5.5 million using a web of funding sources, as previously reported. They kicked off efforts in 2015 to complete the loop, which was envisioned for more than 30 years.
Hill said construction could start as soon as June 1. The Michigan Department of Transportation, which is set to chip in $974,362 toward the project, will act as construction manager, Hill said.
City commissioners will have to approve a contract after bids are in, Hill said — if they prove workable. If not, project partners will evaluate them and see what can be done, including extra fundraising to fill the gap if it’s not too large.
Hill agreed the project has been a long time coming.
“I think it’s been a labor of love for a lot of people for a long, long time, and I think this is the closest that we’ve been to getting the loop completed, and I think we’re in a good position to do that,” she said.
Commissioners are also set to hear the results Monday of an audit of the city’s finances from July 1, 2018, to June 30, 2019. City Clerk Benjamin Marentette also will talk about the city’s major accomplishments in 2019.