ASHLAND — Ashland County Engineer Ed Meixner will head back to the drawing board after receiving a bid on a guardrail installation project that was too costly.
Meixner said his $291,666 estimate in May was a little more than $44,000 over the bid opened Thursday from Lake Erie Construction Co.
State law requires governments to decline bids that exceed 10% of estimates on purchases for projects. The threshold for this project would have been $320,832.
He said the cost in supplies, labor and transportation contributed to the firm’s $336,275 bid for the project, which includes installing new guardrail — or tearing out old guardrail and installing new — at 37 locations across the county.
Meixner said the project is typically funded through a federal grant administered through the Ohio Department of Transportation, up to $300,000.
The rest of the cost would be covered by county coffers, he said.
This isn’t the first time in recent months county commissioners have had to re-bid projects.
In January, commissioners received a bid for a stack conveyor machine Meixner has wanted to replace since November. The bid exceeded the 10% threshold.
Meixner said commissioners plan to reopen bids for the stack conveyor machine on June 9.
The possibility that bids come back with a price more than Meixner expected has always existed, he said.
“What’s different is that I generally never went into that situation fearful that my estimate might not be correct,” Meixner said, who’s worked as a county engineer for 30 years.
“For the most part, we’ve been 98 or 99% successful. I can’t say it’s never happened — I just can’t remember when it did,” he said.
He said the reasons for higher bids are plentiful, including higher prices in fuel to transport material, which is also experiencing a surge in cost.
“But it’s also the cost of labor, staff shortages — everything,” he said.
Thursday’s bid opening is one example of the effects of inflation within the last three to six months, he said.
Employment in the nation’s construction industry rebounded in April to pre-pandemic levels, according to Associated Builders and Contractors.
“After 23 months of recovery, construction employment has at last exceeded pre-pandemic levels,” reads an ABC press release. “On a year-over-year basis, industry employment has expanded by 220,000 jobs, an increase of 3.0%.”
But inflation has made doing business more expensive.
The Producer Price Index for construction climbed 22% last year, with fabricated structural metal products surging 42% and 87% for iron and steel. Steel mill products ascended 127%.
Softwood lumber spiked 24% in December.
Meixner said he will return to the commissioner’s office with a new estimate for the guardrail project on June 9.