Plans for construction including a new circular traffic roundabout at the intersection of Fifth Street and Washington Avenue have accelerated — with city councilors deciding to accept a bid for a major portion of the project.

The city council voted four-to-two to accept the bid amount of $599,719 from Built Right Construction for the Washington Avenue Improvements Project and to authorize Mayor John Browne to sign the notice of award for the winning bid.

Next, Infrastructure Solutions Group LLC is to get the required bonds and insurance from the contractor and then coordinate a pre-construction conference. An official notice to proceed will then be issued so work can begin.

Dale Burke, the president of Infrastructure Solutions, which provides engineering, construction oversight and consulting services to the city of McAlester on various projects, told city councilors during their regular Tuesday night meeting at City Hall that five contractors received plans for the Washington Avenue Project.

Built Right Construction submitted the lowest of three bids that were submitted by contractors bidding on the project, he said.

Washington Avenue improvement plans include new asphalt along Washington Avenue between Fifth and Sixth Streets. New concrete curbs and gutters between the intersections are included in the project.

"We will do the entire intersection of Fifth and Washington to the Sixth Street intersection," Burke said. "We're not doing Sixth Street."

Another portion of the project calls for parking spaces on the north side of the U.S. Post Office building at the corner of Fifth Street and Washington Avenue to be pushed further to the south, closer to the building.

City Manager Pete Stasiak previously said the sidewalk will get moved three feet closer to the Post Office building. Stasiak noted that the rear ends of many vehicles extend into Washington Avenue under the current parking system.

Voting "yes" to award the bid for the project were Ward 1 Councilor Weldon Smith, Ward 3 Councilor Travis Read, Ward 4 Councilor James Brown and Mayor John Browne.

Ward 2 Councilor Cully Stevens and Ward 6 Councilor Zach Prichard voted "no" to not award a bid for the project. Ward 5 Councilor Maureen Harrison did not attend the meeting, which is why only six votes were cast.

Ward 6 Councilor Zach Prichard had questions about the project's cost. "How much is the cost of putting in just the street?" Prichard asked.

Stasiak said the project also includes work for curbing and storm drainage.

Prichard asked again about of the city were only redoing the street. "If we were only redoing the street, and not redoing the traffic circle?" Prichard asked.

"We looked at redoing the intersection at Fifth Street," Stasiak said. He went on to say that the traffic circle was offered to the city.

"A private individual gave us $60,000 to do the traffic circle," he said.

Prichard asked if sewer and drainage issues at the intersection would also be addressed and was told they are included in the Washington Avenue Project.

"We are addressing it," said Burke.

Prichard said during the meeting that he drives down the street almost every day and he said it looks like the city could better spend the nearly $600,000 somewhere else.

On another item, city councilors voted to accept Built Right Construction's bid of $87,990 and authorize the mayor to sign a notice of award for the Block 231 Alley Drainage Improvements Project.

Prior to the vote, Stevens noted that Built Right Construction is involved in several city projects and he asked if the company could handle that workload.

"Can they do all that?" Stevens asked.

Robert Vaughan, of Infrastructure Solutions, said he had a conversation with the company regarding that matter and he expressed his confidence Built Right could handle the workload. He said he was told there would be additional hiring.

"They have multiple crews working," Vaughan said. He also said the company will hire others to complete portions of the work, if necessary.

Vaughan said this portion of the Alley Improvements Project is in the area of Adams Avenue, between D and E Streets.

The Savanna-based Built Right Construction recently worked on the city's Downtown Streetscapes Project and completed the bulk of the work ahead of schedule.

Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com

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