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Preliminary bid shows small overrun on courthouse project

March 17, 2017 GMT

By Steve Klaven’s preliminary calculations, the bids that came in Tuesday for the Columbia County Courthouse remodeling are nearly $100,000 over budget.

But the apparent overrun amounts to just 1.25 percent, he said. And that’s close enough, Klaven told the County Board’s Ad Hoc Building Committee on Wednesday, that the project can be brought in, with some tweaks in the costs, at its construction budget of $7,461,427.

“We’re pretty comfortable with that, but there’s still some work to do,” said Klaven, senior project manager for J.H. Findorff and Sons, the Madison construction firm that is overseeing the lion’s share of Columbia County’s $45.51 million building project.

The remodeling of the 55-year-old courthouse at 400 DeWitt St., to convert the building for court-related use only, is one of the three key components of the building project. The other two are a new three-story Administration Building, under construction on the northwest side of the Portage Canal, and a two-story Health and Human Services Building, under construction on the canal’s southeast side.

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It is the new HHS building where the courtrooms and court offices will move temporarily, starting in July, for the nine months to a year that the remodeling is expected to take.

In speaking to the Ad Hoc Building Committee on Wednesday, Klaven noted that:

• No bids were received for earthwork -- the only one of 16 project components that attracted no bidders. Bids for earthwork are likely to be sought again.

• The only bid received for landscaping, $114,735, is “excessively high” and is unlikely to get Klaven’s recommendation for acceptance. About $30,000 was budgeted for landscaping.

• There is a potential for savings in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning component of the project by utilizing “value engineering.”

County Board Chairman Vern Gove of Portage cautioned, however, that cutting too much from HVAC is likely to mean that the county will be hit with higher costs later, for fixing work that was not adequately done the first time.

Understood, replied Klaven.

He said he would work with Project Manager Ron Locast and his team from Potter Lawson, the Madison design firm managing the project, to study in depth the bids that were opened on Tuesday at the Columbia County Law Enforcement Center.

When the Ad Hoc Building Committee next meets on March 29, Klaven said, he expects to have his recommendations as to which bidders should be awarded the subcontracts for the courthouse project.

The project includes three new courtrooms, a non-jury hearing room, the addition of a two-vehicle sallyport, secure fenced parking for judges and employees of the district attorney’s office and automatic doors on the second floor, operated by authorized public safety personnel, to block the hallway for secure prisoner transport.

The building also will house the offices of the district attorney, clerk of courts, register in probate and child support.

Plans call for all county offices, including the court-related offices, to be out of the courthouse by July 10, so that the remodeling can proceed in an unoccupied building.