The large State Street reconstruction project in downtown Howell has been given the final green light.

The Howell City Council met Monday night and granted final project approvals, with Councilman Michael Mulvahill abstaining to avoid any perception of conflict of interest as his employer is a material supplier for the project. The construction of the project is being funded through a $2 (m) million Community Development Block Grant from the State of Michigan. The City is responsible for all design and construction engineering costs, per the terms of the grant agreement. A memo noted the City worked hard with the bidder, TLS Construction, and has been able to value engineer the project at a reduced cost, without substantially impairing the overall design vision of the project.

City Manager Shea Charles says project costs were much higher than anticipated but did work with the contractor to do some value engineering to bring it much more in line with the grant amount. City costs were also greater than anticipated by around $35,000 to $36,000. He says the total construction cost with TLS Construction is $1.9 (m) million but the City also has contracts with DTE Energy for street lighting and cable line replacement with Comcast, - which works out to just over $2 (m) million in actual construction costs. However, Charles tells WHMI they are comfortable with the value engineering. The difficulty level of the project is being attributed to a lack of other bidders and it was also noted that the Michigan Department of Transportation flooded the market with different jobs, which is in turn tying up contractors that have traditionally bid on city work. Charles says it was a very unique situation in that only one contractor bid and it was well over what was anticipated. He says it looks like M-DOT will be releasing additional work next summer so this is something that is not going to go away any time soon and staff recommended proceeding with the project.

Plans call for reconstructing State Street as a festival street that is completely barrier free, reconstruct both the east/west and north/south alleys with improved
drainage and replace water mains and sewer lines in the area, as well as replace storm sewer as needed. It’s said to be a difficult project because it’s an older area of the city and there could be unknown variables once construction commences. The alley area is also narrow and described as a tough place to work. The anticipated groundbreaking is around May 8th or 9th. Charles says they’ll be working with the contractor to reach out to property owners and business owners along State Street to let them know the work is coming. Photo: Google Street View. (JM)