MOUNT DESERT — The Main Street redevelopment project in Northeast Harbor is costing about $190,000 more than anticipated, but the overrun will be covered by the $337,000 contingency that was built into the budget.
The total budget is $3.25 million.
About $55,600 of the cost increase is due to the unanticipated need to replace a pipe beneath the parking lot at the north end of Main Street and to replace sewer and storm drain services near the Sea Street intersection.
The budget for the Main Street project originally included $320,000 for costs related to construction contract administration and inspection services, which is being handled for the town by CES Inc., an engineering consulting firm based in Bangor.
“An additional $135,000 is estimated to be needed through project completion and the 12-month warranty period,” Public Works Director Tony Smith said in a Sept. 1 memo to Town Manager Durlin Lunt.
He said $41,684 of that amount has already been spent.
Smith said there are several reasons for the cost increases including difficulty working with Versant Power, formerly Emera Maine, which is responsible for burying some electrical lines and relocating others.
“For various reasons including being non-responsive to our engineers’ questions and needs, changing their mind to what they have previously agreed to with our engineers, and what appeared to be poor in-house communication on their part, Versant Power has been difficult to work with,” Smith said in his memo.
“Whenever Versant changed their mind, it required CES to make the changes to the contract documents, costing us additional project funds.”
Smith said a relatively minor example involved the relocation of a single utility pole on Main Street.
“No fewer than four site visits were made to the existing pole with representatives of CES and Versant in attendance,” he said in his memo. “Versant changed the location of the utility pole at each of the four site visits before the new location was finalized. The location of the new pole ended up being approximately two feet from the original one.”
Smith told the Board of Selectmen Sept. 8 that the process of obtaining the necessary easements from private property owners also has been more time-consuming and expensive than anticipated.
“We thought we had finalized terms with a property owner, only to find they had changed their mind or they wanted something extra [in return for the easement],” he said. “That has increased costs significantly.”
Work on the Main Street project was halted for the summer. It is to resume in mid-October and continue as long as weather permits. The project is to be completed in May, provided there are no significant delays.
“Versant has told us they won’t start any work until all three of the outstanding easements that we need are in hand,” Smith told the selectmen. “Originally, Versant was going to pursue the easements, but midstream they decided they weren’t going to and told us we were.”