Weatherford Democrat

July 9, 2013

A light at the end of Aledo Trail?

Council presses on despite lack of information


Weatherford Democrat

— By JUDY SHERIDAN

A high 11th-hour estimate from contractors and unknown maintenance costs were the most recent obstacles to the Aledo City Council moving forward with streetlight upgrades for the Aledo Trail downtown couplet project.

The council meeting is the second in a row where the council has been unable to make a decision on the lighting plan due to insufficient information.

By the end of the June meeting, however, council members had tentatively selected a lighting design recommended by Freese & Nichols and were moving forward to solicit competitive bids on the lights to obtain a better price than the one estimated by the current contractor.

Just before the council meeting, Freese & Nichols received a price from McMahon Contracting that was $2,000 more per fixture/pole assembly than the engineering firm had estimated, Chris Bosco, of Freese & Nichols, reported.

“That’s what drawn us to say, going forward, we should bid this out,” he said, “have our current contractor put in the foundations and conduit, and we bid out the lighting to come in at the end of the project.”

The new bids, as well as maintenance estimates the city is asking Freese & Nichols to provide, could determine whether the couplet is illuminated by upscale antique-look lights or the less costly TxDOT standard.

Bosco presented four different lighting concepts to the council. The options ranged from $83,600 for 14 30-foot-high standard TxDOT fixtures/poles to $133,600 for 17 21-foot decorative fixtures/poles referred to as the Clearfork option.

The TxDOT fixtures, matching those slated for FM Road 1187, were part of the original bid for Aledo Trail.

After some discussion, council members expressed a preference for the engineering firm’s recommended option, a decorative 29-foot fixture/pole assembly priced at $111,600, similar to the standard TxDOT option in the number of poles, mounting height and low glare.

The council was uncomfortable picking an option, however, without knowing the annual maintenance cost to taxpayers, information Bosco had not prepared.

The engineer pointed out that the state would maintain the TxDOT standard, while the city would pay to maintain any of the other options.

“In Fort Worth they acquire a couple extra poles in the event that one gets knocked down,” he said, responding to a maintenance cost question from Councilman Kerby Smith. “That’s one method where you can put back the same style of pole.”

“Most maintenance on these fixtures would be re-lamping, and the biggest cost of that would be the cherry-picker to go out and put the new lamp in,” a lighting designer from the firm offered.

The designer said a new lamp might be required every four to five years, a new ballast every 10 years.

Bosco said Freese & Nichols must have council approval of a design to go forward with bids.

The conflict was resolved with the council voting in favor of proceeding with the preferred option, while the firm researches maintenance costs.

If those costs prove prohibitive, the council could return to the TxDOT option with only a “minor rework” in the design, according to the lighting designer.

The board of the city’s Economic Development Corporation, which is promoting a more attractive look in downtown Aledo, has agreed to provide $81,600 for the decorative fixtures/poles.

County Judge Mark Riley, on hand to answer questions about the county’s contribution to the project, told the council that Aledo would receive no further funds from the Transportation Bond. Commissioners have approved more than $114,000 for Aledo Trail upgrades, he said, including some $87,000 for lighting.