Costs continue to climb for city plaza refresh and fire station

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

SPRINGFIELD — A pair of major city construction projects have led to some cost overruns of close to $2 million.

Springfield City Commissioners authorized emergency ordinances to cover unanticipated additional expenses for repairs to the city parking garage and city plaza refresh, and for the new fire station currently under construction on South Limestone Street.

The City Hall project has turned up multiple unexpected issues in the original construction in 1979, and an update to the structure completed in1995. The most recent cost increase totaled $62,934 on top of a previous increase of $854,634 approved by commissioners over the summer.

All in all there has been $1.4 million in cost overages on the plaza project, much of it to correct problems from previous construction failures.

“We may have one more change order before we are done, " City Manager Bryan Heck warned commissioners as they considered the latest cost increase. “And our completion date has been pushed back to April of 2024.”

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

The original timeframe called for completion in December 2023.

Heck was asked by commissioners to explain the overruns and reported that the extent of damage to the garage beneath city hall was unseen and unknown until work began. Then it became apparent that leak damage to the foundation was worsened by the faulty installation of a rubber membrane intended to prevent water damage.

“The $1 million membrane was not properly installed,” Heck said. He had previously told Commissioners that the company that conducted the faulty work is out of business and the city is unable to recoup any of the loss sustained due to bad construction.

When it became clear the entire garage roof, which serves as the foundation for the plaza, would require repair, Heck said city officials saw an opening for additional improvements.

“We took the opportunity to revitalize the plaza space for community use,” Heck said. The area is the usual site location of such community events as Holiday in the City, CultureFest and National Night Out. Those events have continued in other city locations during the refurbishing work currently underway on the plaza.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

City officials tapped into American Rescue Plan (ARPA) dollars, funding designated to help communities recover from the economic impact of COVID-19, to cover the cost of the plaza and garage project. According to Heck, savings realized from other ARPA funded projects will enable the city to apply additional ARPA funds to offset where costs have come in over projections.

Another example where that will be the case involves construction of the new Fire Station #2 at 2040 South Limestone St., also funded through ARPA. The original estimated cost of the station was $6.7 million. Clark State College is a partner on the project, with plans to use the station for educational programs related to fire and emergency careers, and contributed $1.35 million toward the facility.

The current total cost approved by commissioners for the fire station is $7,213,030, about half a million over the original projected cost. Heck indicated there is a delay on completion due to supply chain issues, pushing back the anticipated opening of the facility to March of 2024.

The South Limestone station is the first of four to be built by Marker Construction, based in Bellefontaine. Projected costs for the additional stations is estimated at $4-4.6 million each, with ARPA funds also earmarked to cover those costs.

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