Dubuque council approves Bee Branch contract at $9M higher - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque council approves Bee Branch contract at $9M higher

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

The Dubuque City Council voted 6-1 Monday night to award the contract for the Upper Bee Branch Restoration Project to Portzen Construction -- but the cost of that contract is $9 million more than originally estimated.

All told, it'll cost the city about $27 million instead of the originally-estimated $18 million. 

Despite the hefty price tag, though, that price increase won't be passed along to the taxpayer.

"We were able to rearrange some of the other projects, delay their implementation, to identify the funding sources to award the bid," said Mike Van Milligen, Dubuque's city manager. "There wont be any additional debt than was already planned for the project, and there won't be any fee increases to the citizens to help fund this. It'll just delay some of the other components."

Van Milligen said the reason the price is 50 percent higher than they estimated comes down to a couple of things.

First, he said, there is a lot of work in the construction industry going on right now, and contractors are having a hard time finding enough skilled workers.

Second, Van Milligen said it's a risky project -- it's in an area that will most likely flood out at least once or twice a year during construction.

And even though it'll be a pricey project, it's one Van Milligen says needs to be done.

There have been six Presidential Disaster Declarations in Dubuque since 1999 because of flooding.

"We've got almost 1,500 homes and businesses that, every three to four years, flood out," he said. "And the council long ago decided they were going to cure that problem."

Construction is set to begin next month, with the project fully finishing by Sept. 1, 2017.

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