AUBURN — High bids from contractors mean Auburn can do only one of the three street projects it had planned for this summer.

The city will widen and rebuild a south-side intersection at Auburn Drive and Wayne Street.

Reconstruction of Touring Drive and resurfacing of North Street won’t fit the budget, however.

“If the bids had come in reasonable, I’d be tickled pink to do them,” Mayor Norm Yoder said Thursday at a meeting of the Board of Public Works and Safety.

In spite of a high bid, the city will extend its Rieke Park trail to connect with the YMCA of DeKalb County soccer complex. Yoder said the city has made a commitment to complete that project as planned.

“We’re sort of caught in a box on that one,” the mayor said. The city will have to ask its Redevelopment Commission to grant more money for the trail.

Brooks Construction won both contracts awarded Thursday.

For the trail project, the city will pay Brooks $463,748. Yoder said an engineer’s “conservative” estimate had predicted the price at $350,000.

Yoder showed visible irritation at the situation.

“Rieke Trail should not have been bid in June. It should have been bid in January” to obtain the best price, the mayor said.

The trail extension will run for 2,114 feet around the south side of the park’s pond. It will end at the soccer complex on North Indiana Avenue, north of C.R. 36-A.

The existing north-south section of the trail, stretching 6,200 feet, will receive a new coating with 1.25 inches of asphalt. Construction is scheduled to start July 1 and continue through Nov. 1.

Brooks won the Auburn Drive-Wayne Street project with its bid of $472,724. The engineer’s estimate was $354,390.

Yoder said the city will go ahead with that project, in spite of the high price, because the intersection is “a total safety hazard.”

Eastbound semi trucks must make a sharp turn when heading south at the intersection. Last year, a semi knocked over a pole holding one of the intersection’s traffic signals. Since a new pole was installed, it has been hit at least twice, Yoder said.

The bid to reconstruct Touring Drive from 7th to 15th streets came in at $430,024, compared to a $342,937 estimate.

“It’s a functional road. There’s no safety hazard there,” Yoder said about Touring Drive’s existing condition. “To pay a premium, is it in the best interest of the taxpayer to do that?”

“I think we could go at least another year on that one,” Street Department Superintendent Bill Brandon said about rebuilding Touring Drive.

Yoder said the North Street project also could wait a year.

The bid for North Street of $568,453 came much closer to its estimate than the others. An engineer had estimated $562,800.

However, Yoder said a $15,000 line item for seeding grass after the North Street project “boggles my mind.”

Brandon said his department could continue patching North Street this year.

“I think it could last a year, and I think Touring Drive could last a year, too,” said board member Danny McAfee.

In all, bids on the three street projects exceeded expected prices by $211,000.

“They’re all busy. That’s the problem,” City Engineer Steve Klein said about paving contractors.

The city had planned to use a $630,000 state Community Crossings grant to pay for half of the three street projects.

The state will provide half of the engineer’s estimate, or $177,195, toward the Auburn Drive-Wayne Street project.

Instead of matching $630,000 for all three street projects, Auburn would have been on the hook for approximately $841,000 if it had gone forward with all three.

Awarding the three street projects for the bids submitted would have completely drained the Street Department budget, Yoder said.

Instead, the city will send back approximately $453,000 in unused state grants.

“If we don’t do all the projects, then we have some money to do other things” with the Street Department budget, the mayor said.

Rieke Trail is a separate project, financed entirely with city funds.

Also Thursday, the board purchased the “Fugate property” of two empty lots and a garage at Wilson and 11th streets for $12,000. The property lies in the Cedar Creek flood zone. The garage will be removed, and the land will be left vacant.

The board renewed a health insurance plan for city employees with Nationwide Insurance. A consultant told the board that a “pretty reasonable” premium increase of 5.5% is “clearly the best option.”

The board established a fund through the Community Foundation of DeKalb County to receive donations toward a new skate park. Yoder is proposing to build a skate park on the site of the former city swimming pool next to Eckhart Park.

Placing of a historic marker near Jackson and 11th streets was approved. The marker will honor 20th-century author and humorist Will Cuppy, who was born in a house on the northwest corner of the intersection.

Permission was granted for streets to be closed for three special events:

• The Auburn Meadows Homeowners Association will have a community picnic on Canyon Drive, June 22 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with a rain date of June 29.

• Auburn Presbyterian Church will have an outdoor service and picnic July 21 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

• The DeKalb County Free Fall Fair will use numerous Auburn streets for the annual event, Sept. 23-28. Police Chief Martin D. McCoy said the fair may add a new event — a 5K run before its grand finale parade on Sept. 28, using the parade route.

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