MISSOULA — As the design for the sweeping Mullan-area infrastructure project moves towards its final phase, a collection of minor costs are adding up, pushing it past the original $1.5 million contract.
Last week, the county increased its 100% design contract ceiling with DJ&A to $1.7 million, hoping it will cover the remaining scope of work.
Shane Stack, the county’s director of Public Works and a former Montana Department of Transportation engineer, said such costs are routine in a project as large as the Mullan BUILD effort.
“When we originally started this, there were some unknowns,” he said. “As you get into design details, you figure out some of those unknowns and you get some answers. Sometimes they’re added costs and in some cases, we have reductions.”
The county applied for and received around $13 million in federal funding in 2019 to kickstart the project, which will likely cost more than $30 million to fully complete. The initial phase of work has been in design ever since and is set to break ground this spring.
As it moves to that stage, the final design is coming into focus and bringing some changes with it.
“We worked and partnered with MDT and asked them to fund signal improvements at Broadway and Mary Jane Boulevard,” Stack said, citing one of the changes. “It’s $700,000 for the signal, but we had to design it. There are a handful of additional costs related to it in lighting and surveying.”
Stack said the county has a maximum of $800,000 dedicated to the project, and any additional expenses will depend on the general maximum price when it’s provided by the contractor.
The city also has a maximum $5.5 million committed to the project, and Stack said the $186,000 increase to the design contract ceiling will come from that funding source.
“All the pre-construction activities will be funded with city and county funds,” Stack said. “We still have to get to general maximum price and evaluate where we’re at when we get that price to see how we’re going to fund construction.”