Neighborhood residents and people throughout the City have been looking forward to the beginning of the White Rock Lake dredging process this summer. Until early May, things had gone very well with this project.

As many of you know, when I arrived at City Hall in June 1995, the City’s plan was to begin the Lake project in 1998. With a lot of lobbying, good support from the rest of the Council and a favorable economy, we were able to accelerate the project so that $1.4 million to complete the engineering, permit and specification work was approved by the Council in December 1995.

The preliminary testing of and site selection for the silt, the permit process and many other necessary planning steps for this project have been completed since January 1996.

The next major step in the plan called for the Council to approve a bid for the City to contract with a dredging company this month. The bids were opened May 1, 1997, and much to the surprise of the engineering firm working with City staff on this project, only two bids were received. Both bids were approximately 40 percent higher than the budgeted cost, and, consequently, the Council formally rejected these bids.

City engineers have completed a comparison of the bids with our consulting engineers’ original estimate. City staff has been contacting contractors that had secured plans to prepare bids to determine why bids were not submitted or why their cost estimates exceeded those provided by our engineer. This evaluation was necessary to determine what modifications were needed to bring the project into budget.

The major items identified for modification to reduce cost and provide for increased competition on the bid include:

• Examination of the noise performance requirements to allow flexibility to the contractor while assuring that City regulations are met.
• Clarification of insurance requirements to make certain that contractors are not mistakenly including costs beyond those actually required.
• Review of provisions to demonstrate that adequate coordination is provided between the dredge contractor and the owner of the sediment placement site.
• Examination of staffing requirements for the pipeline operation to determine where modifications could be made without reducing environmental protection.

The scope of the dredging process won’t be reduced, but the new bid process will delay the project by 30 to 60 days. Engineers still believe the project will be completed by August 1999, the original date set for completion.

I will keep you posted on the resolution to this problem and the ongoing process and schedule changes. I plan to hold community meetings during the third quarter of this year to begin a final review of the White Rock Lake Master Plan, which entails starting the process required to obtain approval for the refurbishment of the recreational facilities, lighting, signage, hike and bike trails, road improvements and much more at the Lake.

As always, I appreciate your support and assistance as we work together to make our neighborhood and the City of Dallas the very best they can be.

Watch this column for further updates or call 747-LAKE. Thanks.

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