DIXFIELD — The Board of Selectmen learned Monday evening that the Safe Routes to School project may cost the town $40,000 more than expected.

Mike Laberge, Maine Department of Transportation’s local projects coordinator, said the agency had a meeting in March and realized the cost estimates were a couple of years old.

“We asked the project engineers, Wright-Pierce, to run the numbers, and they came in 20 to 30 percent higher than we had predicted before,” Laberge said.

He said he sent Town Manager Carlo Puiia a revised agreement for the new estimate and let the board discuss it.

The project would create a safe route from Dirigo High School to TW Kelly Dirigo Middle School, and would add a sidewalk along the length of Nash Street to the Regional School Unit 10 superintendent’s building, Puiia said.

“Nash Street is a busy corridor, with all of the athletic fields, so the sidewalks there and on Weld Street would help make things a lot safer for students,” he said.


Puiia said that in May 2013, voters approved $83,120 for sidewalk repairs.

“As part of the Safe Routes to School project, the town has to match 20 percent of the project, and the state match would be 80 percent,” Puiia said. “Currently, that means the state match would be $332,480, for a total of $415,600.”

Puiia said the new estimate for installing sidewalks from Dirigo High School to TW Kelly Dirigo Middle School is $615,000, and the town would be required to commit to $123,000, a $40,000 increase from the money approved at the 2013 town meeting.

Christine Rineheart, design engineer with Wright-Pierce, said it would cost $92,000 to engineer and construct the Nash Street sidewalks.

Board of Selectmen Chairman Hart Daley asked Laberge why there was such a long delay between the time the town approved the $83,120 and the start of the project.

Laberge said the federal funding was “cut in half in 2012.”


“There was a bit of a delay between when the project was designed and when it was ready for construction,” Laberge said. “We had to wait for the federal funding to catch up with the project.”

Laberge said that the plan was to put the project out to bid late this fall and to begin construction in 2016.

“We felt like we’d get better prices if we put the project out to bid in the fall rather than the spring,” Laberge said.

He said the Board of Selectmen could vote to sign the revised agreement, which would allow MDOT to commit to its 80 percent match of the new estimate, or vote to stick with the $83,120 residents approved in 2013 and revisit the issue when the bids come in at the end of the year.

“We’re leaving it completely up to you,” Laberge said.

“It’s scary,” Daley said. “That’s a big increase.”


“It is, and whenever you accept federal funding, there’s always going to be strings that come attached with it,” Laberge said.

“Well, I’m not really comfortable signing a new agreement until we see what the new bid numbers are, and until we get a consensus from the voting public,” Daley said.

“That’s fine,” Laberge said. “With any luck, contractors will be hungry for work, and the bid numbers will come in lower than we predicted.”


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