Stegall Road was back on the agenda of the Scotts Bluff County Commissioners Monday night.
It was another tense meeting in a recent series regarding the 12-mile stretch of road that connects Highway 92 and Highway 88. The project has concerned county staff for years due to its extensive cracking and potholes.
In January, commissioners approved a $1.67 million bid from Simon Contractors, out of North Platte, to repave five miles of Stegall Road.
During Monday’s meeting, commissioners unanimously approved an option to change the material for Stegall Road — cutting the $1.67 million bid for the contractors by $188,000 — which leaves questions for how long the road will last.
Those costs could be cut further, engineers for the project said, depending on whether the county or the contractor fields the chip-sealing costs. If the county takes over chip-sealing, that would reduce the cost by about $253,000.
The commissioners’ action Monday changed the waterproof layer under asphalt from a fabric reinforcement layer, which costs $8 per square yard, to an alternate paving material which would cost between $4-$5 per square foot. The materials are used to add a waterproof layer to prevent cracks.
The option, called FiberMat, was not the most cost-saving measure presented. Project engineers M.C. Schaff suggested another non-woven fabric estimated to save the county $320,000 on the project, that was used in the City of Scottsbluff.
Two weeks ago, the engineering firm contracted by the county said they would not sign off on the change order without the technical data for the material, saying they could be negligent if they didn’t do their due diligence.
That changed Monday, when engineers said they had developed their own design specifications.
Dave Schaff, of M.C. Schaff and Associates, told the Star-Herald Monday that he used a combination of design specifications from multiple states and their own calculations for the change order.
“It’s something we had to come up with, it wasn’t given to us from any one place,” Schaff said.
At the last meeting, Schaff said using those alternate construction materials would most likely mean the road’s lifespan would shorten between 7-10 years, instead of the 15 years the bid was for.
“Both materials will save on your initial costs, but both may require more routine maintenance, some more crack-sealing in the future more chip-sealing sooner than later,” M.C. Shaff engineer Adam Vath said.
The meeting became tense in exchanges between Commissioners Russ Reisig, Mark Reichert, Chair Ken Meyer and Highway Superintendent Linda Grummert.
Commissioners asked Grummert why she had not included budgeted county costs — such as painting lines, shoulderwork and $53,000 in engineering costs — in the bids for the project, saying it didn’t accurately reflect how much money the county would spend on the project.
“We didn’t approve it,” Reisig said of the county’s work costs.
Grummert said the county’s costs are budgeted for in her department.
“If you want to know what additional cost the county is going to incur, give me a few minutes, and we’ll write them down, and we’ll give you a total,” she said. “But that was not what was on the agenda. The agenda was to approve the bids that were opened.”
After about a 10-minute exchange, Commissioner Mark Harris said that the county approved the Road’s Department budget.
Meyer said he wanted to see project totals the next time.
“You were right, we didn’t ask for (totals). In my opinion, it should have been included as $1.67 million plus the county, so we know a total cost of the project,” he said.