Two local firms, Sundt Construction and Davila Construction, Inc., were selected by Bexar County to lead construction of the San Pedro Creek Improvements Project on Tuesday – a critical step towards the project’s groundbreaking celebration slated for Sept. 8.
They’ll have to hustle to keep the project’s unofficial deadline. City of San Antonio and Bexar County elected officials want to see the project done in time for the city’s Tricentennial celebrations in 2018.
Sundt/Davila will work on the pre-construction and construction services for Phases I and II of the project that will essentially turn a concrete drainage ditch into a linear park. Over the next two years, the $175 million project, managed by the San Antonio River Authority, will revitalize about two miles of the creek to provide dynamic connections to popular and emerging downtown destinations.
The contract requires Sundt/Davila to look for potential cost saving opportunities in the project that includes cost estimates of $668,000 for pre-construction services, $330,000 for supplemental costs, and $13.5 million for construction, River Authority Watershed Engineer Kerry Averyt told Bexar County Commissioners on Tuesday. The firms are already analyzing $5 million worth of potential cost reductions, he added.
Out of three applicants, Sundt/Davila received the highest overall ranking based on three components – request for qualifications, interviews, and pricing proposals – by an evaluation committee comprised of Bexar County Facilities Management Department Director Dan Curry, County Director of Public Works Renee Green, County Special Projects Coordinator Tony Canez, River Authority Watershed Engineering Manager Patrice Melancon, and Averyt.
Technically, the joint venture will be the “construction manager at risk” which allows the team to get the ball rolling on utility work and bridge completion along the creek without waiting for the final, 100% design plan. The Sundt/Davila team will continue its work after the San Pedro Creek project breaks ground and manage construction activities and subcontractors, Averyt said.
Using a construction manager at risk will minimize delays in project progress and saves the River Authority $700,000, Averyt added. The River Authority has been in contract negotiations with Sundt/Davila since May.
The County also approved the creek’s 70% design schematics on Tuesday, which were recently completed after suggestions from public feedback sessions and area stakeholders were collected. Sundt/Davila will be working closely with the San Pedro Creek design team led by Muñoz and Company and Pape Dawson Engineers, which will provide analyses and revisions, if necessary, to the final creek design.
Meanwhile, the County awarded a contract beyond $900,000 to HDR Engineering, the prime consultant on the SPC project.
The creek’s special groundbreaking event will feature an operetta that will combine music and dance to portray San Antonio’s 300-year history.
The County also approved a cooperative agreement with the River Authority for construction administration and artwork administration for the project. Under the construction agreement, the River Authority will oversee the project’s execution, manage permitting requirements, and coordinate operations and a maintenance plan with the City.
Averyt said there are no permits in place at this time. In order to ensure that the project is completed by the Tricentennial celebrations in 2018, Commissioner Paul Elizondo (Pct. 2) urged the River Authority to secure the proper construction permits as soon as possible.
“We can’t proceed on our schedule unless we get those permits,” he said. Bexar County Manager David Smith said he anticipates securing the permits within the next six weeks.
The art administration agreement requires the River Authority to maintain communication with the public and other stakeholders, as well as administer the installation of the Tricentennial artwork along the creek. Earlier this month, the County approved plans to commission an artist to design a permanent art piece along San Pedro Creek in conjunction with the City’s Tricentennial celebrations on May 5, 2018. The permanent art installation would be the first piece in the creek’s public art program, which will facilitate further art programming along the creek after its grand opening.
Over the next six to eight weeks, Averyt said the River Authority will work with Sundt/Davila to determine the total project cost estimates, a proposed schedule for completion, and secure permitting and design documents. The team will then bring that information to County Commissioners.
Smith said that the group anticipates completing the project within or not far off the $175 million budget, but “we’ve only concentrated serious cost evaluations on Phase I, because that’s the phase we’re looking to get done by 2018.” Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff suggested seeking 2017 municipal bond funding for the bridges to be built across the creek, which he said would cost about $28 million.
The Sundt/Davila team is confident that they’ll move the project forward in time for the Tricentennial.
“We’re committed to making this happen for the community,” Sundt’s Senior Vice President and Texas District Manager John Carlson said.
Top image: San Pedro Creek Tricentennial artwork site. Rendering courtesy of Muñoz & Company.