Bid for bridge, sidewalk project comes in high

BROOKLINE – Town officials say the engineering bid for the construction of a sidewalk and pedestrian bridge in Brookline came in higher than anticipated.

DeBois & King of Bedford agreed to take on the project for $89,472, which is $1,900 more than the town expected.

Originally the engineering firm’s bid was $99,700 but Town Administrator Tad Putney told the Selectboard during its meeting Monday that he was able to talk them down about $10,000.

The New Hampshire Department of Transportation, which provided a grant to fund 80 percent of project, is in the process of reviewing the bid and will decide whether to accept it, Putney said.

He said the town either could accept the added cost or reduce the scope of the project.

“But I don’t think we want to do that just yet,” Putney said.

Board member Valerie Ogden, who has been a vocal opponent of the project, said the board should consider reducing the scope of it.

“I think it’s early in the process to be discussing that,” countered board Vice Chairman Brendan Denehy.

It would be better to wait, look at the whole picture, Denehy said, because other aspects of the project could cost less.

Putney said the engineering study will give the town a much better understanding of how much it can expect to pay for the project as a whole.

Brookline voters approved a warrant article for the project during its Town Meeting in March to use a $580,000 federal Transportation Alternatives Program grant and $145,000 of taxpayer money to build a bridge over the Nissitissit River and a sidewalk that would connect to the bridge from South Main Street.

The board voted 3-2 to cancel the project during a June 19 meeting, a decision that caused uproar among many of the town’s residents. Two days later, the board scheduled a special meeting to hear public input about the project.

All those in attendance at the June 29 special meeting spoke in support of the project and many lambasted the board for going against the will of the voters.

Three members of the board also admitted they had met in private to discuss their opposition of the project.

At the end of the meeting, the board reversed its decision.