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New School Bids Under Budget, Site Work Progressing



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Bids for the construction phase of the Sandy Hook Elementary School project have been opened and appear to address the full scope of work required to complete the new building, and they are $500,000 to $1 million under budget.

Public Building and Site Commission Chairman Robert Mitchell that on January 6 he was pleased to learn upon opening bids for the largest and final phase of the construction project, that they were within budget.

At the same time, Geralyn Hoerauf, the school’s senior project manager from Diversified Project Management, notified The Newtown Bee that site work ahead of a formal groundbreaking and the beginning of construction is continuing.

During December, building footprint compaction work (deep dynamic compaction) began with an excavated basement area specified for specific compaction work. Continued mass excavation and placement of soils was occurring throughout the project site, and the installation of the storm drainage pipe and catch basins commenced.

By the end of January, crews hope to complete their deep dynamic compaction work, and continue installation of storm drainage pipe and catch basins. At that point workers can install the underground drainage detention system, begin installation of the new water main within the site, as well as preparation and base for retaining walls on the east side of the property.

Regarding the construction bids, Mr Mitchell confirmed they were received and processed in two stages. In December, bids for a number of smaller, more specific aspects of the project were opened and reviewed. Those bids will fold into the overall project scope as the large construction phase bidder is qualified and hired.

“Among those smaller projects were things like completing site cleanup, and the vendor who will only be involved in the elevator installation,” Mr Mitchell said. “This is generally small stuff or less complicated bids that were easy to [qualify] and helped us save time while focusing on the significantly larger and more complicated construction bids.”

The PBSC leader said he was somewhat relieved when the bids were opened, and several were within close range of each other – all coming in within about two percent of the target budget. The project’s total budget including demolition and remediation of the former building, along with preconstruction and design services, is being underwritten by a $50 million state grant.

Last October, prior to the bid invitations going out, the Board of Education pegged combined construction cost estimates at $39,494,442.

Mr Mitchell, a commercial architect who works on projects throughout the region, said he was particularly concerned since he was hearing that costs for commercial mechanical systems similar to what the new school would require were escalating.

“But to their credit, cost estimates developed by [construction managers at] Consigli took that into account in the bid documents — so we hit it right on the button,” Mr Mitchell said. “Now we will commence with what we call leveling the bids — holding meetings with a few of the low bidders to be sure no qualified items will end up costing more money.”

He said the final, qualified low bid will be reviewed by the PBSC on January 27 to clarify the guaranteed maximum price, or GMP, for that phase of work, and the construction firm should be announced that evening.

Mr Mitchell said the low bidder is restricted from changing anything now that those bids have been opened, because the project is a public sector job.

With the holidays behind them, workers on site at the new Sandy Hook Elementary School are continuing preparing for full-scale construction, as these images from Diversified Project Management show. Crews are using a huge weight and crane to tamp down loose soil, and materials are beginning to be stockpiled for upcoming drainage. Bids for the construction phase of the project were opened January 5, and Public Building and Site Commission Chairman Robert Mitchell says they are all under budget, and the winning bidder will be announced by month’s end.
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