Contingency money for Streetscape should improve efficiency, ensure fairness

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By Jesef Williams

A slight change in the city of Lancaster’s Streetscape beautification project is expected to yield more fairness and efficiency during the construction process.

At its first meeting of the year on Tuesday, Jan. 8, Lancaster City Council voted unanimously in favor of a request to put $7,883 in contingency money toward its latest Streetscape project, which will bring new lighting, sidewalks and other improvements along South Main Street.

Months ago, the city awarded a bid of $469,134 to Sossamon Construction of Gaffney to perform  the work, which is already under way. The project could be finished as early as May.

Brian Tripp of the engineering firm W.K. Dickson, which oversees construction projects for the city, suggested that the responsibility of materials testing and quality control be removed from the project contractor.

Tripp told council that problems arose in the past when contractors also handled the construction-observation portion of a project.

He says it’s better for the city to contract those services – either directly through the city or 

indirectly through W.K. Dickson.

“This recommendation was made in an effort to keep materials testing/quality control independent from contractors,” Tripp said.

Council’s vote Tuesday means S&ME will conduct the testing. City Administrator Helen Sowell explained the nature of the work to council.

“This will include an evaluation of subgrade soils, fill material density testing, concrete sampling and testing and asphalt pavement testing,” she said.

Tripp said the $7,883 will come out of the project’s contingency fund. After this allocation, nearly $44,000 will remain in that fund.

The overall price tag of this Streetscape phase is $854,000 – which accounts for other expenses such as design and administration costs.

A bulk of the project is being funded through a $500,000 federal Community Development Block Grant. The city is providing the rest.


Contact reporter Jesef Williams  at (803) 283-1152