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Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

ODOT slaps hand of Celina for not following the rules

By William Kincaid
The state will take over the administration and bidding of all Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) funded infrastructure projects in Celina for at least two years because of an infraction made during the Grand Lake Road project last year.
The infraction is not related to misspent money, ODOT Deputy Director Rex Dickey said.
"It was a matter of not following the proper procedures," he said this morning.
In 2007 the city had a scope of work and environmental study approved by ODOT that included the elimination of two baseball diamonds at Eastview Park, as part of the Grand Lake Road reconstruction project. However, the city also created a new diamond that was not included in the ODOT-approved plans.
Because it was ODOT money used for the project, ODOT needed to approve all plans.
Also, now that the city has lost its power to bid out ODOT-financed projects, it will have to pay additional money for the state's more-thorough engineering requirements.
This will affect the upcoming Main Street, Buckeye Street and bike path extension projects.
Celina Planning and Community Development Director Kent Bryan informed city council members on Monday night of ODOT's ruling.
"It was an error on my part thinking it was covered," Bryan said about the new diamond being included in the work documents and environmental studies approved by ODOT.
He pointed out that ODOT later approved the new diamond creation but indicated the move was still an infraction of procedures.
"They (Celina) approved work outside the scope," ODOT representative Denise Heitkamp said, adding an ODOT inspector found the error.
The ramifications include a loss of local bidding power for at least two years and additional money for needed ODOT engineering.
"It's going to be a minimum of two years before they're allowed to administer their own contract and that's a minimum," Heitkamp said.
The city also cannot apply for certain funding, specifically the state's small city and transportation enhancement local funding program and a municipal bridge program, Heitkamp said.
"There's still programs the city can still apply for. Nothing's been taken away that they (Celina) were already awarded," she said.
Council members on Monday night approved turning over the Buckeye Street project to ODOT as an emergency measure. They also held first readings of two similar proposals rescinding the Main Street and bike-path extension projects to ODOT.
Additional engineering by architect Fanning/Howey Associates, Celina, will cost the city an estimated $15,000 for the three projects, Bryan said.
The $3.7 million Main Street reconstruction project will be bid out in early 2010 with work to begin in spring 2010. Also, the $1.55 million Buckeye Street storm sewer project will be bid out in early 2009, with work to start in the spring of 2009. Work on the bike-path extension also is scheduled to begin next year.
Bryan said none of the project timelines - which were adjusted this summer to give the city more time - will change with ODOT's ruling.
Bryan said it is "not unusual" for the state to administer and bid out ODOT projects. Until recently, the state had always administered these projects for all municipalities, he said.
Bryan responded to multiple questions from council members on Monday night, including the issue of governing power.
"But we still have a lot of control. We'll be on site (for the projects)," Bryan told council members.
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