Faced with a bill for $26,550 in additional engineering fees the Palmview city council will hold a public meeting Tuesday to discuss how to move forward with the long-gestating La Homa Road opening project.
The project, which will connect La Homa Road with Business 83 via a new bridge over the Edinburg Main Canal and connecting with Scott Lane Road on the south side of Business 83, has been in the design stages since 2014 by the McAllen-based engineering firm, SAMES Engineering. The firm is requesting an additional $26,550 to continue the project following two previous redesigns.
During an interview Wednesday, City Manager Ramon Segovia said he planned to meet with SAMES engineering officials yesterday, to discuss the possibility of lowering the price so the city council can determine next Tuesday what kind of action they should take with the project.
“I’m pretty confident we’ll be able to work something out,” Segovia said. “We’ve always had a good relationship with SAMES and I don’t see us having a problem now. I think it’s too good a project for the city to pass up.”
A representative with the Hidalgo County Urban County Program told the city council during its March 21 meeting the organization could not absorb the additional cost. Lupita Garcia, program coordinator with Urban County, gave the council a financial breakdown of the project.
Garcia told the board the initial project was estimated to cost around $397,370 with SAMES engineering receiving more than $39,000 for their engineering contract. However, the projected cost has increased to $641,717 following two redesigns to accommodate a road realignment, the purchase of several Rights of Way (ROWs) and construction of a bridge over a canal near the area.
During the road realignment planning stage, SAMES’ contract fee increased from $39,000 to $49,295, Garcia said. She said the engineering firm is requesting the additional $26,550 as compensation for all redesigns based on the recent modifications to pay for geotechnical, structural and civil engineering work.
Garcia reminded the council that the previous designs had been paid for by Urban County. However, the cost of the new redesign would have to fall on the city, she said.
“At this point, Urban County has already exceeded the amount that we’re allowed to amend or offset increases so we’re not able to pay for any additional fees,” she said. “If you chose to continue with this project, which we hope you do because this project has been worked on for so long and we’re not able to cover the overage, the city must incur the cost.”
The city has the option of not moving forward with SAMES Engineering, but they would have to start the project from scratch if they do so, Garcia said at the city council meeting.
“With appraisals, purchase of ROWs and engineering services we’ve used, we’ve spent $98,175 on this project already,” Garcia said. “Right now the purchase of the ROWs isn’t being delayed. This is who you have in place to go forward with unless you would like to start over and end the contract but it doesn’t look good if we go back and say ‘we want to start all over’ after we’ve already purchased land for the project.”
SAMES Engineering has worked with the city before, Segovia said. The firm was responsible for a number of projects such as the Bentsen Palm Bridge, the Abram Road Bridge and several park improvement projects.
Because of this history between them, Segovia said the city council is just being fiscally responsible in negotiating for a better deal.
“With this history, we want to negotiate with the firm for a more attractive price,” Segovia said. “We want to ensure that is the best offer SAMES can make because once this project is done, we think it’ll be a good outlet for people coming into the city southbound into La Homa.”