The opportunity for engineering firms to submit design proposals for Hanford’s downtown roundabout has officially closed, garnering proposals from three engineering firms.
“We do what’s called a formal bid process, we go out, we circulate a request that outlines the scope of the project and request design engineers to bid and indicate their approach to a specific project,” said Deputy City Manager Jason Waters.
Waters said reversing the roundabout project, which is planned at the intersection of Seventh and Douty streets and has been opposed by some residents, would be difficult because of the need to allocate federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act by a certain deadline.
“It would be really difficult, assuming that project would require engineering or design work,” Waters said. “We would have to put together a new RFP for whatever the new scope is, recirculate bids, get under design. When you add all that together, that’s not a delay of weeks but of several months.“
Waters is expecting the process of grading the proposals to take a month or more, subject to how many proposals the City receives. A scoring committee will be assembled to determine the top candidates from the bids submitted to the City.
Proposals will be graded on a number of different factors, including whether the firm has handled similar projects in the past and their ability to manage the complications of working with nearby utilities.
Waters felt there was a good chance that interviews would be conducted with at least some of the firms that submitted a proposal to the City as the scoring committee grades the proposals they receive.
“One of the big ones is experience,” Waters said. You want to make sure you have a firm that knows what they’re doing specific to these types of projects. There will be a lot of infrastructure, so you want to be sure you have a firm that has a lot of experience doing that. You also want them to have a lot of project-specific ideas.”
Waters described the engineering work associated with designing a roundabout as extremely complicated. The design firm that is eventually selected will need to think about how the construction affects everything around the new structure.
Waters pointed to the need to make any new sidewalks compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and examining how the roundabout changes storm water flow as examples of complications firms may need to deal with.
“It’s going to be a substantial amount of engineering work,” Waters said. “Not to mention there are water and sewer utilities running through these streets. You have to make sure they’re in a place that won’t harm these utilities. It’s going to be a lot of work. They’re going to have to locate and possibly move utilities, replace utilities.”
Each engineering firm will include in their proposal what the design will ultimately cost. This number will be presented along with the top candidate or candidates that City staff select after the extensive scoring process.
“Once we have a design firm under contract, there are certain milestones when the firm has a more solid idea of what might be proposed,” Waters said.
Woodlake eyeing more roundabouts
Like Hanford, which would have three roundabouts when the downtown project is complete — the two existing roundabouts are near the city’s outskirts — nearby Woodlake and Exeter also have roundabouts.
Woodlake built a large roundabout in the center of the city’s downtown, and Exeter has been referenced by a few residents speaking against the Hanford project during council meetings.
Woodlake City Administrator Ramon Lara said in an email he felt the city’s roundabout has been a success and beautified the intersection. Lara additionally said he feels the majority of the public supports the downtown roundabout.
Woodlake has completed a second roundabout near local parks and schools, with two more roundabouts in the design phase.
Exeter City Administrator Adam Ennis said that the roundabout in question on Pine and C streets shouldn’t be considered a roundabout because the stop signs before entering the intersection make it function differently than a traditional roundabout. Ennis added that the intersection did not see a large amount of traffic.
“The only time we have any issues there is when we have a large truck try to go around it,” Ennis said. “Really, the trucks aren’t supposed to be in that area anyway. We don’t have any trouble with it, but it really doesn’t work like a true roundabout.”