In September 2018, Manchester Parks and Recreation received a $960,000 grant from the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) to extend the Highway 41 bike lane to the Little Duck River Greenway near Parks Avenue and Emerson Street. Due to the bike lane connecting with the greenway, it made sense to extend the entire greenway as well.
Manchester agreed to contribute $240,000 to the project, making the budget $1.2 million. It is projected to take four years to complete, according to Parks and Recreation Director Bonnie Gamble.
Gamble went in front of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen on Tuesday, Feb. 5 to present the top bidders for the design aspect of the project. Gamble explained TDOT requires the bidder to be chosen based on quality, not pricing, which is based off of a TDOT score sheet.
The top scorer was HFR Design with a score of 93. The second highest was St. John Engineering with a 91.
“[HFR] are the ones that designed the Rec Center,” Gamble said. “They designed all of the greenway except one phase. So, all the design that you see on the greenway right now, the bridge, the overlook…we’re familiar with them.”
The phase not designed by HFR was done by St. John Engineering.
The idea is to have a 12-foot wide greenway extension with a bike path that will include bridges over waterways.
“It’s not a sidewalk. It’s not about laying a sidewalk next to a street. It’s about how you experience this park, how you experience nature and improve that. So, to me, the ability to design, in this park, is the most important,” Gamble said.
Between HFK and St. John engineering, HFK was more expensive. The original proposal was $90,500 versus St. John’s $78,000. Aldermen, in the work session preceding the meeting, were concerned about the difference of price.
“When I look at this, and I see this grading sheet, we’re 93 and 91, that is subjective,” said alderman Marilyn Howard. “I can say, personally, that these guys are the best…personally, where I come from, $10,000 and $12,000 is a big deal and I do believe that no property or park wouldn’t use Scot St. John. But I would like to look for a way that we could do this at $10,000 cheaper.
“First night, I said, ‘Scot, we’re concerned about this…are these hard numbers at $78,000? Scot, what’s the deal? You were not the low bidder.’ And he explained, ‘Marilyn, it’s about scoring,’” Howard continued.
“When I looked at the scoring sheet, there is a big weight, the difference in 93 and 91 is because of how many jobs Scot’s done. And let me tell you something – Scot St. John, he would not be able to build a bridge over the Mississippi like you guys (HFR), but Scot St. John is very conscientious. I have seen his work. I don’t know him very personal…but I know he can do this job,” she concluded.
HFR Senior Vice President Jim Gilliam explained HFR has done six or seven projects with TODT of a comparable scope.
Aldermen Mark Messick and Bob Bellamy echoed Howard’s statement and asked them to cut down the cost to be competitive with what St. John Engineering offered, a move that is required by TDOT before moving on to the second-best scorer.
Gilliam agreed and was able to find $10,500 to cut from the project while talking with aldermen and the resources available, making the final cost $80,000.
Before the discussion during the work session ended, Gamble reminded the aldermen that this contract is not the last one for the project.
‘This is not the only engineering contract that is going to come out of this project. The larger one is still to come,” she said.
Gilliam explained the design team cannot be the team in charge of the Construction Engineering and Inspection (CEI), which will cost the city about $260,000.
During the BOMA meeting that followed, the aldermen unanimously voted to accept the bid and named HFR the design lead for the greenway extension project.