Coralville parking facility latest public project hit by construction

Iowa City considering revised animal shelter project due to high costs

(The Gazette file)
(The Gazette file)

CORALVILLE — It appears Coralville has become the latest victim of a busy local construction market.

The City Council on Tuesday will review bids for an intermodal transit facility that was estimated to cost $11.25 million. The lowest of the three bids the city received, however, was $13.9 million — more than 23 percent higher.

It’s a situation the city of Iowa City and the Iowa City Community School District also have faced. Iowa City next week will consider a second round of bids for a new animal shelter after initial proposals came in over budget.

In Coralville, city staffers are recommending the council award the contract to the low bidder, Knutson Construction Services, predicting that rebidding would result in little changes and perhaps even increases.

“There’s just so much (construction) going on we’re finding the costs are going up significantly over estimates because of the shortage of labor,” said Dan Holderness, Coralville city engineer.

The Gazette reported last December that there was about $2 billion in construction underway or coming in the Iowa City area — an unusually high amount. Half of that comes from the University of Iowa, with major flood-recovery projects and a new UI Children’s Hospital under construction.

Holderness said a delay in bidding the transit project also raised costs because of inflation and pushing construction further into winter.

Iowa City Community School District officials are revising a $6.3 million upgrade to Twain Elementary School after bids last month came in $400,000 higher than expected.

And Iowa City scaled back plans for a new animal shelter after the lowest bid it got in March, $3.66 million, was 33 percent more than the construction estimate.

The Iowa City Council is being asked Tuesday to award a $2.8 million contract to Todd Hackett Construction Co. out of Muscatine.

To get to that figure, the city made a couple of dozen changes to the building and site plans, said city architect Kumi Morris. That included changing material on the building’s facade, switching some of the animal equipment and going from offices to cubicles.

“Our main goal is to maintain the animal holding numbers that we had committed to with the other communities and to protect the architectural core of the facility,” she said.

Johnson County, Coralville, University Heights and the University of Iowa are to use the shelter and are sharing in the cost. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is contributing $1.4 million, and Friends of the Animal Shelter Foundation has committed to donating $1 million.

The city’s old shelter was destroyed in the 2008 flood, after which animal services moved to a facility south of town. The new shelter is to be on Napoleon Lane.

The Coralville intermodal facility, to be built in the Iowa River Landing District off First Avenue, is to have 425 parking spaces, a staging area for buses, restrooms and showers for commuters, and office space for the city’s Transit and Parking Department and the Iowa Bicycle Coalition, Holderness said. Construction is to start at the end of this month and take a year to finish, he said.

The city initially planned for a larger facility costing $24.5 million, but the project has been split into phases because of a lack of funding. The second phase would include more parking, office space and possibly a day-care facility.

Coralville has received $6.5 million in federal funds and will continue to seek outside money for the next phase, he said.

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