How, exactly, will the city-parish and its two program management teams of 16 engineering and consulting firms—that’s right, 16—efficiently and effectively oversee Mayor Sharon Weston Broome’s nearly $1.2 billion MovEBR roads improvement program?
That is the main question, writes Business Report Editor Stephanie Reigel in her latest column. To their credit, officials in Broome’s administration, namely Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Kelvin Hill, have been patient, accessible and transparent in sharing their plans with Riegel, she writes, trying to explain why having so many firms involved in this program is a good thing.
However, even with Hill and the administration’s help, it’s just not adding up yet.
To back up: Earlier this year, the administration decided to divide the long list of projects in the 30-year MovEBR roads tax program into two groups that would be overseen by two separate program managers. This was done to satisfy both those concerned about keeping costs down and those who wanted to ensure lots of local participation by small and minority businesses in the parish’s largest public works project ever.
It may have been done with the best of intentions, but you know what they say about the road to hell.
As it turns out, a team led by CSRS was selected to oversee the $800 million in “capacity improvement” projects—things like road widenings and expansions—and has negotiated a contract with its seven subcontractors worth $7.5 million for the first 18 months. A team led by Stantec, meanwhile, was chosen to manage the $300 million or so in “community enhancement” projects—sidewalks, bike paths, landscaping and such—and has negotiated with its eight subcontractors a $5.6 million contract for the first 18 months.
Now, the two contracts are before the Metro Council for approval, and while council members don’t seem bothered with questions about what appears to be a really cumbersome structure, Reigel still wants some clarification.