Remember the Fifth Street extension project?
You know, that plan to extend the street one block west from Denver Avenue to Elwood Avenue with a turnaround in front of the Aloft Hotel, the funky-looking building formerly known as City Hall.
It’s ready to go. No, really. Area 1, at least, is a go. That means the city will be extending Fifth Street west to the front of the Aloft Hotel and constructing a turnaround. They’ll also take out some curbing on Frisco Avenue and make parking improvements along the road.
That’s the official word, anyway. After a few fits and starts, city officials said Thursday that the construction bid is expected to be awarded soon and work will begin within 60 days.
“We really do want to have as much of it done to meet that June opening of the library,” said Paul Zachary, director of the city’s Engineering Services Department. “That is our target.”
Central Library, 400 Civic Center, is undergoing a major renovation.
Crossland Heavy submitted the low bid of $5.9 million. That figure does not include $764,085 the city anticipates in contingency and inspection costs, putting the total cost at approximately $6.5 million.
The city has $5 million to pay for the project, including contributions from Tulsa County, the Tulsa City-County Library and the Aloft. The city’s current available funding for the project, about $4.8 million, was part of the 2008 Fix Our Streets package.
Additional funding will come from completed arterial street projects in the 2006 Third Penny sales tax program.
The city will likely do the inspection itself, Zachary said, shaving another $300,000 to $400,000 off the total cost.
Plans to extend Fifth Street go all the way back to 2010, when the city was negotiating to sell City Hall to TOCH LLC.
The city’s agreement with TOCH includes the following language: “The parties agree to utilize their best efforts in good faith to seek and obtain the reopening of Fifth Street at the plaza level from the west side of Denver Avenue to closed Frisco Avenue with ramping down from Fifth Street to Frisco Avenue utilizing available city of Tulsa street improvement funding.”
And that is exactly what they have been doing. It just hasn’t gone as smoothly as everyone would have liked.
Last year, the original bids for the project — which covered all three phases — came in millions of dollars over what was anticipated.
Zachary explained at the time that there were three main reasons the bids came in so high: the project’s restricted work hours, the restricted work space and the limited equipment available to work in tight work areas — including the parking area beneath the plaza.
City officials tried to modify those working conditions and were ready to send the project out for bids again before deciding to do the project in phases.
Area 2 would create a ramp from Elwood Avenue to Frisco Avenue, the street that runs in front of the Cox Business Center. The estimated cost is $1.3 million. Area 3 involves making enhancements to Civic Center Plaza. The price tag for that is estimated to be $2.2 million.
But we are getting ahead of ourselves.
The point of all this is that the long-awaited extension of Fifth Street is about to happen.
Really, it is.