Price of Hilre Drive extension upped to $33K

Michael Hutchins
Herald Democrat
The Sherman City Council approved a change order to the city's contract for engineering on the Hilre Drive extension, amid changes in the scope of the project.

Sherman's extension of Hilre Drive is about to get more expensive than initially anticipated. A $32,900 change order for an engineering contract with Jones/Cartner Engineering for design work on the project, which will extend the roadway and alleviate potentially dangerous traffic conditions, was approved by the City Council recently.

The need to extend Hilre Drive to West Travis came as developers presented plans for an apartment complex near the intersection of North Travis Street and North Creek Drive. Citizens and developers brought up concerns that the project would exacerbate traffic along North Creek, particularly at two stop signs that are in close proximity at the intersections with Knollwood and Travis.

"A couple years ago the city entered into a contract with Jones and Carter to design the Hilre Drive extension," Sherman Director of Engineering Wayne Lee said. "After they got into the design of this 425 feet of paving, they discovered that in order to properly pave and design the street, we are going to need about 475 feet of off-site drainage to be installed."

From there, city crews began to work on an extension of Hilre Drive that would allow the city to abandon a part of Knollwood road and alleviate the need for the stop sign. The change would also allow the Texas Department of Transportation to install a stop light at the Travis intersection.

However, engineers are now discovering design challenges that require more drainage capacity, and with that, more design and engineering pavement and right of way needs. The change order brings the total cost of the contract to $82,400.

The change order was met with opposition by Council Member Sandra Melton who voiced her dislike of change orders for projects that should have a set price.

"I think everyone knows I hate change orders, and I really hate when it says will not exceed — and it clearly says not to exceed — $49,500," she said.

Wayne Lee: "A couple years ago the city entered into a contract with Jones and Carter to design the Hilre Drive extension. After they got into the design of this 425 feet of paving, they discovered that in order to properly pave and design the street, we are going to need about 475 feet of off-site drainage to be installed."

Melton asked if the scope of the change order is work that could be done in house with city resources. Lee noted that it could, but it may not be the best use of resources, given the work that has already been done.

"Since the surveyor already has the survey of the adjacent property done and has done that engineering I think it is best to keep it with them," he said.

Mayor David Plyler noted that changes in the scope of a project are not unheard of, and there are times when these scope changes necessitate the expansion of a contract. The work could be done in house, but the scope and demands of the project may make outsourcing the project a better option as it allows staff to continue their regular duties.

The city also risked liability issues by having two sets of engineers for the project, he added.

"It isn't a question of if our guys are smart enough," he said. "It is about if we have the capacity and bandwidth to do it in house."

When put to a vote, Melton was the sole opposing vote.