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Shortages make bids harder to come by

With steel and concrete hard to get, a Park Boulevard project may be delayed.

Published June 13, 2004

PINELLAS PARK - Now that city officials have enough money to address the flooding along Park Boulevard, they're worried that an international shortage in building materials may postpone the job.

Their concerns center on finding contractors willing to bid on the project because of the uncertainty caused by the shortages and escalating prices.

"Overall, people are concerned about bidding more than 30 days out, because of cost concerns," Pinellas Park City Manager Mike Gustafson said Friday.

The recent shortages of steel and concrete have been blamed on China, which is in a building furor as it prepares for the 2008 Olympics. Gustafson said last week that steel is no longer in short supply, but prices remain high while other metals are now in demand.

The concrete shortage already has affected Pinellas Park. Park Station, the train station the city is building on Park at the railroad tracks, is behind schedule. Gustafson said Thursday that officials still plan to move into the building July 1.

Most of the undone work, he said, is on the outside of the building - incomplete sidewalks and landscaping.

By the end of June, the city hopes to have sidewalk access to the building and much of the landscape completed. The rest, he said, should be finished by the end of July.

"I'd be surprised if it went more than that," Gustafson said.

The major worry now is Phase I of the Park Boulevard project. The city just received $3.8-million for the job that must be spent in the 2004-05 fiscal year, said Bob Bray, the city's planning director. The county will kick in about $205,000 and the city will contribute the remainder.

The work, which is expected to cost a total of $5.2-million, will add larger pipes to the area along Park from about 48th Street west to the railroad tracks.

Officials hope to begin the work as close as possible to Oct. 1, the start of the next fiscal year.

"But I'm not holding my breath," Bray said. The city first must find a contractor by advertising for bids.

Part II of the three-phase project, which is expected to cost about $5.8-million, will add larger pipes and retention ponds to the area between the railroad tracks and one block west of 66th Street N.

The state has committed an additional $1.2-million for that portion of the work. Also contributing will be the federal government, Swiftmud and the city.

Officials hope to begin the second phase about six months after starting the first segment of work. In another six months, they'd like to commence with Part III.

It is unclear how much that will cost, Bray said, but it will remedy the rest of the flooding by adding larger pipes and retention ponds to the section of Park from 48th Street east to U. S. 19 N.

It is also unclear where the money for that segment will come from, he said. City officials plan to continue lobbying and negotiating with other governments for help with the project.

Each phase is estimated to take about 18 months to complete.

* * *

Council members unanimously agreed to issue a $7,544 check for completion of tile work in City Hall. The imported Italian tile, which covers the entryway, halls and other public areas of the building, cost a total of $75,437.

[Last modified June 12, 2004, 23:36:22]

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