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The Dripby Ed Gunts4:25 pmOct 15, 20150

Roland Avenue roadwork re-do now slated to cost $1.1 million and take until March

City approves “extra work order,” says additional 180 days needed

Above: New higher curbs being installed along the Roland Avenue median. (Photo by Mark Reutter)

Roland Park residents will have to wait six months longer for improvements to be completed on Roland Avenue and Northern Parkway – and taxpayers will have to pay another $1.1 million to cover cost overruns on the project.

City officials had previously, as first reported in The Brew, pegged the cost of ripping out and replacing the too-low curbing on Roland Avenue at about $900,000 and estimated it would be completed in 45 days.

The work was ordered amid residents’ complaints about the shoddy appearance of the ½-inch-high-in-places curbing and severe flooding some residents said it was causing on their property.

Yesterday, Baltimore’s Board of Estimates approved a request to authorize a payment of $1,173,829.89 to cover “the cost of existing overruns,” according to an “extra work order” memo submitted by the city’s Department of Transportation.

The board’s action indicates the actual spending will be higher than the earlier estimate.

M. Luis Construction Co., the original contractor for Roland Avenue, is also the contractor that will receive the extra money, according to DOT.

DOT officials contacted for this story have not yet responded.

New Completion Date: 3/6/16

Documents on file with the spending board lay out the ballooning cost of the project.

• The original contract award amount to M. Luis was $3,899,000.

• The Board of Estimates previously approved another $131,829.62 for “extra work” for the job.

• With the addition of the latest expenditure, that brings to $5,204,659.51 the total amount of funds allocated for the project known as “Roland Avenue and Northern Parkway Improvements and Traffic Calming.”

Money to cover the cost overruns will come from a federal reserve fund set up to cover “closeouts” and a city fund set up to pay for “local resurfacing” of city streets, according to DOT.

In its memo to the Board of Estimates, DOT noted that “an additional 180-day time extension is needed to finish the remaining work in the contract.”

The original contract with M. Luis expired September 8, 2015. According to DOT, the new completion date will be March 6, 2016.

Damage to Trees

Chris McSherry, president of the Roland Park Civic League, was surprised to hear about the pushed-back completion date on the project.

“God, I hope that’s just a cushion,” McSherry said. “They have promised they were going to get it done this month.”

Concerned over the damage that correcting problems with the project was causing to trees in the median, she said, she and others met with DOT officials and Deputy Mayor Khalil Zaied.

“We said ‘This is going to destroy our trees,’” she said. “They were very cooperative. They said ‘What would you like us to do?’”

McSherry said the city agreed to hire the arborist the League recommended and “basically do the right thing about the trees.”

She said they agreed to prune the roots before pouring concrete, aerate the soil, do deep root fertilization and take other measures, as well as “replace any of them that die.”

The total cost, she said she was told, was to be $60,000 to $80,000.

McSherry observed “That’s probably where some of that extra cost [approved by the spending board Wednesday] is coming from.”

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