Despite bids coming in $700,000 over budget for the courthouse square renovation in Dadeville, county and city leaders may still see the project come to fruition after four years of work.
The extra funding might come from the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) thanks to a meeting with director John Cooper set up by the local legislative delegation of Rep. Ed Oliver and Sen. Tom Whatley.
“A contingent from the city including myself, Debbie Minor, Dick Harrelson, county commissioner Emma Jean Thweatt and county administrator Blake Beck visited with ALDOT director Cooper last Thursday,” Dadeville Mayor Wayne Smith said. “As you know the bids came in high on the courthouse streetscape enhancement project. We went to Mr. Cooper to ask about more funding.”
Tallapoosa County and the City of Dadeville partnered in applying in 2015 and 2016 for TAP (Transportation Alternative Projects) grants with ALDOT. The city was going to provide $135,000 in matching grant funds and engineering fees and the county was going to provide $94,000 in matching grant funds and fees. With engineering fees and testing already paid for, the bid would bring the project to $700,000 over budget. The project is through the engineering firm of CDG.
Originally, the project was budgeted for $900,000 and was to include renovating sidewalks, moving utilities and landscaping. With the project on both county and city property and rights-of-way, the Tallapoosa County Commission and the city combined their projects to try and get more work done for the money. As the idea of the project progressed, so did the scope and it eventually included an idea for one-direction traffic around the courthouse, meaning portions of Cusseta and Tallassee streets would have to meet ALDOT requirements for a state road. Tests revealed work would have to be done to the base of those streets to bring them up to par.
The project seemed dead until the Thursday meeting but there are still some hurdles.
“They agreed to have additional TAP funding,” CDG’s Scott Henderson said. “We are trying to satisfy Mr. Cooper with some of the issues with the concrete paving. We are working to resolve that issue and it should be resolved over the next few days. There is another possible issue since it would now be two different fundings; there is Mr. Cooper’s funding and TAP funding. There is a possibility the funding for the paving could be pulled from the TAP project.”
If the paving part of the TAP project is pulled, the project may need to be rebid, leading more costs.
“If that does happen that will change the overall cost of the project,” Henderson said. “If it changes 10 percent, we would have to rebid the project. If ALDOT decides to pull that part out of the project we will have to rebid the project. We are waiting to see if that is the case. We don’t want to rebid it.”
The TAP project cost $4,500 for the publishing and opening of the bids. Councilmember Roy Adams said it will cost another $6,000 to rebid. But those costs could be saved because ALDOT would take on the utility relocation. Harrelson said he was ready to get the project moving again after almost losing hope for it.
“We are trying to do it without rebidding,” Harrelson said. “It was an impressive meeting. I wasn’t expecting much when going, but I think we have a good chance at getting it approved. Everyone seemed to want to help us.”
Henderson agrees with Harrelson on the chances of the courthouse renovation being completed.
“The meeting with the director came out better than I expected,” Henderson said. “(Cooper) said he would take care of relocating the water main and the drainage. The current bid has the water board moving the main. He agreed to take on that cost so it saved on that cost. The meeting exceeded my expectations of funding. I was very optimistic after leaving the meeting.”