City of Fitchburg

Utility work for the Fish Hatchery Road reconstruction project will be “significantly delayed” after the Common Council unanimously voted to reject all bids for the project, which came in over the projected budget.

City administrator Patrick Marsh said while utility work that was scheduled for fall 2019 won’t take place this year, the city is still hoping for a similar project completion date in the spring or summer of 2021.

“What that’ll do is require some more coordination between contractors that are doing the utility work and road work, whereas before they would have been out of each other’s way,” he said.

The city received three bids for the project, according to the meeting materials. The lowest came in at $22.7 million, 31% over the engineer’s estimate.

The city and the county agreed to share the cost of the project, which will reconstruct Fish Hatchery Road from McKee Road up to the Beltline, with the county’s contribution capped at $8 million. If there’s an increase in the project cost, Marsh said, the city will go back to the county to request more funding.

“Awarding this contract amount would create a stress on the city’s financial health and/or impact other planned capital projects in the next five years,” the resolution passed on Aug. 27 read.

The bids included costs for road construction, stormwater maintenance work and beautification. Bill Balke, senior transportation engineer for the city, told the Star in an email that Dane County and the City of Madison will not pay toward beautification costs, but will contribute their proportional share toward the other aspects of the project.

City staff recommended the Council reject all three bids to avoid potential litigation. Zignego Company, which had the lowest bid, offered to revise different aspects of the project to lower the bid, but it would involve changes in the construction timeline and materials. Rather than negotiate those changes, the city decided to seek new bids.

“Our consultant believes by tweaking the bid documents, possibly extending the timeline of construction slightly and amending some ordinance requirements we have on materials, we’ll be able to bring that number in line,” Marsh said. “No guarantees, but it doesn’t hurt to try.”

The city plans to rebid the project in November, the referral sheet stated, and will revise staging milestones and promote the project to new bidders.

Email reporter Kimberly Wethal at and follow her on Twitter @kimberly_wethal.