Winning bid for Shore Road Path in Cape Elizabeth is low, local

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CAPE ELIZABETH — Construction of the Shore Road Path will cost less than expected, be locally based, and possibly completed by the time fall foliage adorns the route.

The 2.2-mile path from Ocean House Road to Fort Williams Park is expected to be constructed by L.P. Murray & Sons, based on an $804,000 bid opened by Town Manager Michael McGovern on May 24.

“We feel so excited. We didn’t realize how many people were pulling for us in town,” Kris Murray, treasurer of the 65-year-old Cape Elizabeth business, said.

Before work can begin, the bid must be authorized for acceptance by officials at the Maine Department of Transportation, McGovern said. The bulk of the project will be funded by a $729,000 DOT grant, using a pass-through of federal highway funds.

“We are hopeful construction can begin the week of June 11 and people will be enjoying the path in the fall,” McGovern said. Work on the path will be shut down Aug. 2 and 3 because of preparations for the Aug. 4 TD Bank Beach to Beacon 10K road race.

Murray said variables like weather can alter construction schedules, but the contractor hopes to have the work done in three to four months. The starting point has not been determined, but could be in the Pond Cove and Robinson Woods area, where a fabricated bridge will be installed.

The winning bid was $70,000 less than a pre-bid construction estimate of almost $876,000 by engineers at South Portland-based AMEC (formerly known as OEST Associates). The bid was also more than $90,000 less than the next-lowest bid of $895,000, submitted by Auburn-based T. Buck Construction.

Buxton-based Dearborn Construction submitted the highest bid, $1.19 million. There were nine bids for the project, which was approved by town councilors in September 2009.

“I am pleased a local bidder had the smallest bid,” McGovern said. “The fact his office is right along the route gives us confidence we will have a good relationship with the contractor and a successful project.”

McGovern said he was also pleased the job drew so many bidders, noting the work will require substantial subcontracting efforts for clearing and paving.

The entire cost of planning and constructing the path was estimated at $1.03 million, including contingency costs. McGovern said the most recent estimate on construction work was very close to one made in 2009.

Locally, path planning and construction was funded through $104,000 raised privately, a $40,000 credit from the Portland Area Comprehensive Transportation System, $75,000 from a town infrastructure improvement fund, $60,000 from the municipal sidewalk account, and $26,000 from a 2008 bond.

The 5-foot-wide path for pedestrians and bicyclists, which will extend from town-owned Fort Williams Park to Route 77 in the center of Cape Elizabeth, was not universally popular as it developed.

In 2009, then-Councilor Penelope Jordan opposed constructing the path, and council motions to use town money to start the project planning passed by one-vote margins.

Last summer, councilors and members of the Cape Elizabeth Land Trust were at odds over how the path should pass through Robinson Woods, a 90-acre land trust preserve purchased in part with municipal funds.

Seeking to reduce construction costs and cut down fewer trees, Councilor Jessica Sullivan asked trust members to consider rerouting the path farther into the woods.

Trust Executive Director Chris Franklin said deed restrictions on the preserve would not allow placing the hard surface path except at its perimeter, and the council request was eventually dropped.

Murray said her company has contributed time and equipment for local trail work, and backed the path plan from the start.

“We were totally for the project because we have to drive on Shore Road. It can be windy and dangerous,” she said. “We have a lot of pride in Cape Elizabeth. It would have been hard to see another company working outside our office.”

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

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Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.