Darien summer road work costs run $200,000 over budget

Efforts to correct drainage problems along three streets in Darien this summer have exceeded the city’s budget for that work by nearly $200,000, but aldermen agreed Monday to dip into the city’s cash reserves to cover the shortfall.

Crews working on storm water drainage improvements along portions of Capitol Drive, 68th Street and Iris Road encountered numerous issues in the field that had not been anticipated when the work was budgeted, according to Dan Gombac, director of municipal services. For example, excavation work unearthed several drainage pipes that had not been depicted on existing surveys, he said, and additional effort was required to uncover and remove them.

Also, additional grading work was required that in some cases covered two or three times as much roadside area as had been planned, and in some cases specialized piping had to be substituted at higher cost to comply with state standards, Gombac said.

“The budget did not include this additional pipe, or the materials needed to bury it,” Gombac said. “The ditches we’re doing now are more complex than we anticipated, with more low points that needed to be addressed.”

Increased costs for truck transportation of earth and materials to and from the worksites also played a major role, he said.

Gombac pegged the cost overruns at $54,000 for work on Capitol Drive, $56,500 along 68th Street, and $79,500 on Iris Road, for a total of $190,000. That figure includes $10,000 in contingency fees that may or may not have to be spent, he said. The City Council voted 7-0 to approve the additional amount.

“In the overall scheme of the budget, it is not that drastic of an amount,” said 4th Ward Alderman Joerg Seifert.

Alderman also learned Monday some residents are unhappy with their latest electric bills, which are the first to be issued under a new supply contract with Verde Energy USA. The prior two-year agreement yielded one of the lowest rates per kilowatt hour in the state at $0.0454, which city officials estimated saved the average Darien household $360 over two years. While the new rate of $0.0775 per kilowatt hour from Verde Energy is about 70 percent higher, it is still slightly below the current Commonwealth Edison rate — and residents can opt out of the program at any time to sign up with the electrical supplier of their choice, according to the city.

In other business Monday, aldermen:

• passed a resolution honoring members of the Cancer Smashers, a group of more than 50 local children who continue to raise tens of thousands of dollars each year to support cancer research at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago and other locations. The children hosted fundraising dinners, volunteered at golf outings and other events that supported cancer research, and set up a recycling center to cover all costs related to their activities, among other efforts.

• passed a second resolution honoring Darien resident Michael L. Sklodowski for achieving Eagle Scout status. In addition to earning 40 merit badges, Sklodowski led the effort to create a Veterans Memorial Garden outside the Darien City Hall. Sklodowski, the son of Larry and Yvonne Sklodowski, is a junior at Downers Grove South High School.

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