Council approves $5M contract for road widening work

Intersection from above

Photo by Randy Hoeft/Yuma Sun

A photo of the Fourth Avenue and 16th Street intersection, taken Wednesday, shows many structures removed, a lot of vacant property, and new businesses at the southeast corner of the intersection as the planned widening project is about to get into full swing.




Posted: Wednesday, March 2, 2016 9:22 pm | Updated: 9:31 pm, Wed Mar 2, 2016.

By Blake Herzog, @BlakeHerzog

The Yuma City Council approved a $5.1 million contract for the widening project at the intersection of 4th Avenue and 16th Street Wednesday, with street work expected to start on a project planned for over a decade as soon as the beginning of April.

D.J. Shiplet, construction manager for Cemex Construction Materials South, said it will probably take around two weeks for the city to get an award letter to the firm and for the firm to respond with the final contract and other documents.

He estimated the project will create about 100 construction jobs between Cemex and its subcontractors.

Traffic will be kept moving through the construction zone throughout the 10-month project, but Shiplet acknowledged it won’t be an easy ride.

“It’s going to be a very difficult project. That’s the busiest intersection in the community, we have to keep traffic open. It’s not going to be a fun job, but I think we have the capability to do a very good job and hopefully the community and the traveling public will work with it, and we’ll all get through it unscathed,” he said.

Improvements to the congested crossroads will include dual left-turn lanes and single right-turn lanes in all four directions, bike lanes and waterline replacements and upgrades. To accomplish this, the construction zone will run from 15th to 17th Streets on 4th Avenue and 2nd to 6th Avenue on 16th Street.

The extensive revamp will entail a new concrete surface, curbs, gutters, drains, sidewalks, driveways, raised medians, a new stormwater retention system, retention basin, sewer lines, street lights, traffic signals, landscaping and signage.

“It needs flood control improvements and all kinds of things; it’s been on the city’s drawing board for a long time. Unfortunately people don’t realize, you have to have access in order to build things, and when you have to keep traffic open your access is limited, so it just makes it that much more difficult,” Shiplet said.

City Administrator Greg Wilkinson said the pending acquisition of two small pieces of property from PMG Partnership near the intersection of 4th Avenue and 15th Street is not expected to delay the project.

The council voted 6-0 to give the contract to Cemex Construction, a local subsidiary of a Mexican global corporation, over four other bidders for the project. Yuma-based DPE Construction was its closest competitor with a $5.4 million bid, with three more Arizona companies turning in bids in closer to the original estimated cost of $7.6 million.

City Councilmember Gary Wright said he was concerned about the fact more Yuma companies didn’t vie for the project, saying Cemex isn’t based in the city. “I don’t understand why we don’t get more local contractors to come and bid on this kind of project. My question is, is this a real complicated kind of project?”

City Engineer Joshua Scott said the underground utility and drainage aspects make this a more complicated project than many local contractors could take on, but the out-of-town bidders did propose using local subcontractors.

Wright voted for the contract, but Shiplet responded in the public comment portion at the end of the meeting his firm has been operating in Yuma under different names and corporations since 1947, and has been in the same offices, in a county island at 2088 E. 20th Street, since the 1970s.

“We work here, we support the city of Yuma, we spend literally tens of thousands of dollars in donations to various causes around the city. So I just wanted to say we think we’re local,” he said.

One of those corporations, Rinker, was bought out by Cemex in 2007, according to the CEMEX USA website. Cemex Construction Materials South was formed as a limited liability corporation in 2008, according to the Arizona Corporation Commission website.

Mayor Doug Nicholls did not vote on the item, after declaring a potential conflict of interest because his firm, Core Engineering, has the design contract for the widening project.

Another speaker in the meeting’s call to the public, former mayor Phil Clark, indicated Nicholls isn’t doing enough by abstaining from voting on issues related to the overall project because state law prohibits municipal officials from acquiring any interest in a contract connected to a redevelopment project.

Responding to Clark’s accusation, Nicholls said his firm was awarded the contract in 2007, before he was briefly on council in 2009 to fill an unexpired term and being elected mayor in 2013.

In other action Wednesday, the council:

• Authorized Wilkinson to execute amendment No. 5 to its contract with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation for delivery of Colorado River water. The amendment would extend the total term of the contract’s first amendment to 40 years, expiring Oct. 1, 2017. This would give the city and BOR more time to develop a long-term consolidated contract for the delivery of river water, according to a city staff report.

• Approved a contract for an estimated $24,000 annual contract for nuts and bolts to Copper State Bolt and Nut Co. of Yuma. The fasteners are needed for maintenance performed by several city departments, according to a staff report.

•At the beginning of the meeting Wilkinson presented Finance Director Pat Wicks and Budget and Treasury Manager Wendy Wrenn with the city’s 12th consecutive Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from the Government Finance Officers Association.

Yuma Sun staff writer Blake Herzog can be contacted at (928) 539-6856 or