Three bids rejected, red-light upgrades delayed

Farragut residents can expect the improvements to the Town’s traffic lights to take a little longer.

Farragut Board of Mayor and Aldermen unanimously voted to reject the three bids it received for the design and installation of the Advanced Traffic Management System during its meeting Thursday, July 14.

“We’ve been talking about the project for a few years now,” Town engineer Darryl Smith said. “As you recall, it includes … connections of all our signals (traffic lights) to a central control here in Town Hall with a whole lot of new, much better equipment.”

In 2016, the Town applied for and subsequently was awarded funding for the project through Tennessee Department of Transportation via the Congestion Mitigation Air Quality Grant Program, which funds the design, installation, testing and integration of a “fully functional interconnected traffic signal system.

With a consultant on standby, Smith said utility and grade work has been moving along, as Lenoir City Utilities Board already installed new poles and removed old poles.

However, after opening bids May 5, he said, “We have a problem.”

As the project’s budget is $5.28 million, two out of three bids came in over budget.

“The low bidder (Stansell Electric Company Inc., which bid $4.98 million), unfortunately failed to include the proper bid bond in its bid package,” Smith said. “That is one of several items that TDOT requires in all bids.

“TDOT has got to approve the bids before we can award the contract,” he added.

The other two bids were: Davis H. Elliot Construction Company Inc., $6.49 million, and Southern Constructors Inc., $5.89 million.

“To choose the next lowest bid, we would be responsible for the $615,000 beyond the budget,” Smith said.

With the bids being rejected, the Engineering Department started the rebidding process Friday, July 15. Smith estimated rebidding the project would add another eight to nine weeks on the project. “It would be three weeks before we can open (new) bids,” he added.

Smith later said the ATMS project would enable the Engineering staff “to receive notifications when issues occur at any of our major intersections, like a loss of coordination between signals, along with providing a central control at Town Hall for all of our signals.

“While we won’t be controlling the signals on a minute-by-minute schedule, we should be able to modify timing by switching to pre-developed timing plans when we see unusual congestion,” he said. “An example of this would be when there’s an accident on I-40/75 that prompts motorists to detour to Kingston Pike.

“The project includes new signal equipment, as well, including new cabinets, controllers, radar vehicle detection and cameras covering our major intersections,” Smith added.