MOUNT DESERT — The price of asphalt has risen so much over the past year that the section of Route 198 to be rebuilt this summer has been shortened by about 810 feet to keep the cost of the project from exceeding the available local and state funds.
Last year, the state and town shared the approximately $1 million cost of rebuilding a one-mile section of the road from just north of Parkman Mountain to just north of the Sargeant Drive intersection.
At last year’s town meeting, voters authorized the town to borrow up to $500,000 to split with the Maine Department of Transportation (DOT) the cost of extending the road improvements a mile farther north to the intersection with Route 233 (Eagle Lake Road).
But the only bid the town received by the March 28 deadline, submitted by R.F. Jordan & Sons Construction of Ellsworth, was for just over $1.17 million. The approved budget of $146,100 for G.F. Johnston & Associates to provide survey, design, construction administration and inspection services brought the total cost to nearly $1.32 million.
Public Works Director Tony Smith said in a memo to Town Manager Durlin Lunt that Johnston & Associates worked with R.F. Jordan and the DOT “to modify the scope of services for the construction to a point that gets the costs within budget.”
“These modifications were made without reducing the integrity of the project and still maintain conformity with DOT requirements,” Smith said.
The total cost of the project is now $9,600 over the $1 million that the town and the DOT had budgeted.
“Using $10,920 left from last year’s Route 198 project … reduces project costs to $998,680,” Smith said.
Now, instead of extending all the way to Eagle Lake Road, the Route 198 improvements will stop about 310 feet north of the southern end of Butler Road.
“Bicyclists and others will be able to use the new paved shoulders [on Route 198] and the recently paved Butler Road to bypass the section of Route 198 deleted from this year’s project, which will continue to have gravel shoulders,” Smith said in his memo to Lunt.
Greg Johnston, an engineer with G.F. Johnston, told the Board of Selectmen Monday night that stopping the road work 810 feet short of Eagle Lake Road will not have a significant impact in terms of the overall project.
“That would have been mostly just shoulder work,” he said of the deleted section. “The pavement is in pretty good condition there. It would have been just an overlay to finish that portion off.”
The selectmen voted to award the Route 198 construction contract to R.F. Jordan.
Johnston said the work is to start within the next two weeks and is expected to be completed around the end of September.