In a 3-2 decision Tuesday, the Loxahatchee Groves Town Council approved the resurfacing of three roads with open-graded emulsified mix (OGEM) that had some questioning the value of the process, as well as the hiring of a contractor on a piggyback bid from another municipality.
The projects, which are on Bryan Road, Compton Road and Marcella Blvd., were approved at the behest of several residents, primarily from Compton Road, who said the road has degraded so badly that it is almost impassable.
Town Manager Mark Kutney pointed out that the three roads are not specifically budgeted for resurfacing in the capital improvements plan, although there is a general allotment of $100,000 for OGEM projects on town roads.
Kutney also recommended going through a bidding process rather than piggybacking the project.
“It would seem to me that rather than doing it piecemeal, the council, if you so desire, may want to direct staff to do all three roads and do an invitation to bid so we can get all three done,” Kutney said, pointing out that there is now an engineer on staff who can prepare a request for bids.
Councilman Tom Goltzené made a motion to follow Kutney’s recommendation, which was seconded by Councilman Ryan Liang.
Liang then asked which method would be faster. “I’m for either one. I just want to get it done,” he said. “I know these folks have been putting up with their roads for a while, so my main concern is which is faster.”
Councilman Ron Jarriel introduced North Florida Emulsions owner Jeff King, who is currently doing a resurfacing project in Jupiter Farms. King’s company has also done OGEM projects for the Loxahatchee Groves Water Control District.
King said he had provided the town with three current piggyback contracts with the same price of $2.78 a square yard that would quickly get the roads done. He estimated the cost at about $75,000.
Jarriel said that he and Kutney, along with LGWCD Administrator Stephen Yohe, Supervisor John Ryan and resident George Perez, had inspected the Jupiter Farms project.
Jarriel added that King’s company has contracts with most entities that use OGEM and “microsurfacing” resurfacing, which was what was being discussed for the three town roads. King explained that “microsurfacing” restores the edges of the roads and puts in a new 1-inch surface on the road that will last seven to 10 years.
Jarriel said that seeing King’s other projects had convinced him that his company was the route to go, avoiding the expense and time of seeking competitive bids.
“We can put something in Loxahatchee Groves that has worked for other counties, and if it works for us, the money that we will save in the future will be unbelievable,” Jarriel said, adding that the savings could lead to being able to afford more road projects.
Liang asked King how soon he could start once a piggyback bid is approved, and he said about two weeks, whereas going through a bid process would take about two months.
Goltzené pointed out that the council had discussed the need for repairing culverts on Compton Road before resurfacing. “I believe that our public works director had recommended that we do that prior to this, so I think maybe staff’s input on this might be where we don’t just bulldoze through this,” he said. “Once again, the whole function of staff is to analyze and go through all these things.”
Goltzené also pointed out that the Finance Advisory & Audit Committee had recommended re-examining the value of OGEM surfacing.
“Apparently, we don’t care and we’re going to go ahead with it, but as far as the piggybacking, I really can’t go along with that,” he said.
Goltzené preferred that the staff engineer prepare an advertisement for bids, or at least review the piggyback bids King had supplied.
Jarriel said he was confident that the contractor had proven himself. “We need to vote tonight,” he said. “We need to give that to the residents who have been waiting for years.”
Town Attorney Michael Cirullo said he would have to finish paperwork for Bryan Road before work could commence. Cirullo also clarified that work could start only after the final contract was approved by the council, not two weeks from that evening.
Virginia Standish, chair of the Finance Advisory & Audit Committee, said she approved of piggybacking the Bryan, Compton and Marcella project, but thought the council should look at its paving and culvert restoration policy.
“In general, you guys really need to respect the landowners of this community and come up with a plan,” she said. “The money is going to disappear, and you’re going to say, ‘What happened to it?’ Oh, it’s in this road that 10 years from now or maybe seven years from now won’t be any good.”
Compton Road resident Yvonne Martino said she and her neighbors have been told for the past year that their road was going to be paved. “That road is worse than any washboard I’ve ever seen on a dirt road,” Martino said. “The potholes in some areas are 8 inches.”
She added that the drainage is also poor due to failed culverts.
The town’s consulting engineer, Randy Wertepny with Keshavarz & Associates, cautioned the council about resurfacing the roads without fixing the drainage.
“[Poor] drainage will cause the road to deteriorate,” he said. “If you don’t address the drainage and just resurface it, you’re going to end up seven years from now back where you’re at.”
King said culverts could be fixed after resurfacing by just patching where the culvert was laid. “Obviously, the culverts have got to get done. If you keep water off the road, the road is going to stay together a lot longer,” he said. “But I’m willing to stand by what I gave you as a proposal.”
Goltzené’s motion to direct staff to seek bids on the project failed 3-2, with Jarriel, Liang and Councilman Jim Rockett opposed.
Jarriel then made a motion to piggyback a contract with North Florida Emulsions, which carried 3-2 with Goltzené and Mayor Dave Browning opposed.